I told player’s wife cops had him and she screamed: ‘They can keep him!’

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Watts The Goss - BY ALAN SELBY alan.selby@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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.

TRAIN­ING

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.”

SHOVING

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

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