How Elton John almost let slip about Mark Viduka's secret Man United talks

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Mark Viduka of Australia watches from the bench during an Australian Socceroos training session at Brisbane Stadium on October 14, 2008 in Brisbane, Australia
Photo: Robert Cianflone/GETTY IMAGES

Former Leeds United striker Mark Viduka has recalled the moment Sir Elton John almost exposed his secret transfer talks with Manchester United to an entire stadium of concert-goers.

Viduka spent four years at Leeds between 2000 and 2004, becoming a fan-favourite after helping them reach the 2001 Champions League semi-finals.

Then-United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was an admirer and ultimately tried to lure Viduka from their arch-rivals at one stage.

The Australian striker was in Manchester for talks with Ferguson when he was invited to attend one of Sir Elton's concerts.

After meeting the singer backstage and telling him of the United talks in confidence, Sir Elton went on stage before almost exposing the story to thousands of people in attendance.

Detailing his meeting with the music icon, Viduka told ESPN:

I was in Manchester, and my agent at the time also had a lot to do with Elton John. He said stay for the night and come to the show. He had backstage passes, and I'd get the chance to meet the man for myself. It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

So I'm there with Jacob Burns, my Leeds team-mate and fellow Aussie, as we got ushered into his dressing room. As we enter, Elton swings around on a swivel chair and says, "Mark Viduka, you're from Melbourne. I love that place!"

I was nervous, so I babbled on about my meeting with the Red Devils that day and a possible move. Instead of going to our seats to watch the concert, Elton gets us to watch it at the side of the stage.

About three songs in, he says, "I want to dedicate this next one to my good friend Mark, who is in Manchester today to make a big decision." I'm thinking: "S***, please don't say anymore!" Thank God he didn't.

I didn't sign for Man United. I think I loved living in Leeds too much at the time.

Viduka ultimately remained at Elland Road until Leeds suffered relegation, before he left to play for Middlesbrough and Newcastle United.

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