I told player’s wife cops had him and she screamed: ‘They can keep him!’
THE inside story of a sex scandal which saw nine football stars including Northern Ireland favourite Keith Gillespie arrested is revealed today by the man whose career nosedived after the mysterious episode.
Micky Adams is haunted by the
“La Manga affair” and regards the 2004 police probe into his Leicester
City players his “worst hour”.
He reveals how he phoned the wives and girlfriends of each of the nine arrested – and how one told him: “Good. They can f ***** g keep him.”
Millionaire stars Keith, Frank Sinclair and Paul Dickov were reduced to sharing a freezing Spanish prison cell after allegations that shook football to the core.
Even after being freed, they spent months under suspicion before being cleared of rape and sexual assault charges against three holidaymakers.
Now, in a new book charting his time at the top, 55-year-old Adams details the devastating impact it had on the game, the club and his stars. He reveals how:
Players broke down in tears as Dickov was led away in handcuffs.
Police starved players as they held them behind bars – intercepting food sent from their five-star hotel.
The club spent days desperately trying to keep the story from the press.
Adams, who wrote My Life in Football with Mirror Group journalist Neil Moxley, says: “It really does haunt me. I’d like to be remembered as a decent manager, but when you look up ‘Micky Adams Leicester City’, what comes up?
“It’s not saving a club from administration. It’s not getting promotion. It’s not playing in the Premier
League. It’s La Manga.”
The drama began shortly after his team touched down in March 2004 for a five-day training break in
La Manga, the trendy resort south of Alicante.
All hell broke loose after a night out when nine of them were taken for questioning amid lurid claims by three German women staying at the resort.
There were allegations against some players of a forced entry into a room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and sexual assault accusations against three others.
Defender Sinclair, now 45, eventually faced charges over the alleged attack, along with striker Dickov, 44, and winger Gillespie, 42.
But more than two months after the arrests all charges were dropped.
DNA evidence proved none of them had sexual contact with the women.
But Adams was so shaken that he offered to quit and contemplated walking away from football for good.
The club rejected his resignation. But Adams, who was a defender with the likes of Southampton during his playing career, says his days in top-tier management were numbered.
Premier League clubs snubbed him because the “mud stuck”.
Revealing how the drama unfolded, he tells how he was at the hotel – staying off booze to protect a damaged liver – while the players were on a night out. The allegations surfaced the next day and the team attended a Cartagena police station for questioning.
Adams says: “As soon as we sat down, two armed guards came and stood in front of the doors.
“It was clear it was no longer a laughing matter. No one was now allowed to leave the building.”
Midfielder Steffen Freund, 47, was freed after he admitted having consensual sex with a woman.
But the mood darkened when cops led Dickov back into the room after interrogating him.
Adams goes on: “He’s bent forward, arms behind his back in handcuffs, with two mean coppers pushing him around.
“They’re shoving him through the room and towards the other door. The lads are genuinely gobsmacked.
“Then, one by one, they all go in – and they all come out handcuffed.”
He reveals how he rang players’ part-
The hotel heard we were coming and put three girls of certain morals in there MICKY ADAMS EX-LEICESTER CITY BOSS’S THEORY ON ‘SEX’ ARRESTS
ners to tell them of the arrests. He says striker James Scowcroft, 41, burst into tears after learning his other half knew about false allegations against him.
But Adams also reveals a surprising reaction from the wife of 6ft 3ins centre half Matt Elliott after he told her there had been “an incident” on the trip.
She asked the manager: “Let me stop you there. Does it involve women?”
Adams says he told her: “Well, er, sort of, but I’m not really sure he’s been involved. But I’m just ringing you to let you know that he won’t be in touch for a day or so because he’s, er, been arrested.”
Elliott’s wife hit back: “Good. They can f***ing keep him. They can lock him up.”
Then the phone went dead. The surreal exchange did at least lighten the mood – but only briefly.
For it emerged that while Sinclair, Dickov and Gillespie lay worried in their cell Spanish police had confiscated food sent to them by Leicester officials. Adams reveals: “We arranged for the hotel to put together a load of grub and blankets and send it to the police station where we were assured the lads would be fed. Yeah, right. To this day, I don’t know what happened but not one of the players saw so much as an apple.
“It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the Spanish police had a great feed at Leicester City’s expense.”
Club chiefs managed to keep the story quiet for two days. When it did leak out, media manager Paul Mace told staff to “blank everyone”. Adams adds: “The advice went like this: ‘Micky, the eyes of the world are on you. Even if you are in private conversation with someone next to you, somebody else might be listening. Don’t smile. Don’t trust anyone’.”
This led to a farcical episode on the courthouse steps in Cartagena when, as a crowd gathered, a car booked to hurry the stars back to their hotel failed to show up.
Adams explains: “We walked left. Then we walked right. The press are following us with cameras. It was like something out of Benny Hill. I’m shouting, ‘Where’s the taxi?’
“Suddenly, one pulls up out of nowhere and we jump in, smartish. It was not a co-ordinated exit, let me tell you.”
Adams remains suspicious about the whole affair and has a theory that it was designed to raise the hotel’s profile.
He writes: “The hotel was for sale. They were having difficulty filling the rooms. They heard we were coming and they put three girls of certain morals, shall we say, in there. The girls said that they had been paid by another tourist to go to the hotel and spend time with the players, but they never divulged who he was.
“Afterwards, the hotel went from empty to full with publicity like you wouldn’t believe. Was it helpful to have a sex scandal involving Premier League footballers at a hotel complex struggling to find a buyer? We were front page news on a global scale.”
Adams says La Manga tarred his reputation for life. “I had just turned 40. Nothing can prepare you for an event like that. Nothing,” he says.
He eventually left Leicester a year later and went on to manage Coventry, Port Vale, Brighton, Sheffield United and Tranmere. He now has a role with nonleague Harborough Town’s under-18s and still loves the game.
But he will always blame La Manga for blocking his return to the top.
My Life in Football is published by Biteback on September 21.
When you look me up on internet what comes up? La Manga... I’m haunted by it
MICKY ADAMS ON THE SCANDAL THAT WRECKED HIS MANAGERIAL CAREER
LOYALTY Adams and Dickov, who was arrested
SOLID DEFENCE Frank Sinclair goes to court. Right: How Mirror reported it Picture: ANDREW PARSON