Arsene Wenger told Premier League Golden Boot winner he ‘got it wrong’ signing another striker

Francis Jeffers
Francis Jeffers was signed by Arsenal in an £8million move but failed to live up to expectations -Credit:Getty Images

Kevin Phillips revealed Arsene Wenger told him "I got it wrong" when he decided against signing him for Arsenal.

The former England international was subject to intense interest from the Gunners and their north London rivals following his historic 1999/2000 season with Sunderland where he netted 30 league goals and claimed the Premier League Golden Boot as well as the European Golden Shoe.

However, a move to Highbury never came to fruition for Phillips. Wenger instead signed Everton wonderkid Francis Jeffers in an £8million move.

Just 20 years old at the time, Jeffers failed to live up to the hype due to injury issues and being unable to usurp the likes of Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord in the team. He managed just eight goals in 39 games before leaving for Charlton Athletic in 2004.

Speaking to the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast, Phillips – who eventually left Sunderland for Southampton in 2003 following the Black Cats' relegation – revealed to Sam Allardyce and Natalie Pike that his agent engaged in talks with Glenn Hoddle and Wenger over a potential move to north London.

"My agent had chats with Tottenham when Glenn Hoddle was the manager and Arsene Wenger as well which for me would have been a dream come true," the former striker said.

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"I know it for a fact that Arsene had to make his mind up between me and Francis Jeffers. And at the time, Francis was on a free, he was younger, and I was obviously going to cost a lot more money and I was a lot older.

"Ironically now whenever I've bumped into Arsene at the odd thing he goes 'Kevin I think I may have got it wrong'." Boyhood Gunners fan Phillips then admitted the opportunity to play with Thierry Henry would have been "incredible".

He added: "I'm thinking 'thanks for telling me now' because I'd been a young Arsenal fan to watch Thierry Henry for me is the best Premier League striker there's ever been. So if I had the chance to train and play with him would have been incredible."

Venturing into management in 2022 with South Shields, Phillips left Hartlepool last month after guiding the club to safety where he claimed the National League side had offered him a two-year contract before later reneging on the offer.