Kinnear refuses lucrative job offer

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The Independent Online
Joe Kinnear has turned down a fortune from a rival club to stay at Wimbledon and plot their fantastic flight to within a point of the Premiership summit.

Sam Hammam, the club chairman, revealed yesterday that he might have lost the Irishman, who has put his unfancied charges in among the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester United. "Joe was tapped and he didn't even give it a two-second thought because he is a super man and this is his club," Hammam said. "He had money put on the table. He is a very well-paid manager but this was substantially better than he is getting here. But he did not take it."

Managerless clubs like Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City have cast envious eyes at the 50-year-old disciple of Bill Nicholson, but Hammam believes Kinnear will never desert the Dons. "He is an outstanding manager. But forget football, he is so special as a man, outstanding in terms of his high levels of integrity and loyalty," he said. "He could have wanted to leave. But this is his club and he is more than the manager here.

"The boys you see out there are his boys - either he bought them in or got them from the youth team. He is like a mother to them, this is his family.

"We had the chance to buy one of the best-known players in England at a good price and he didn't want to know. He says he would only take Roy Keane from Manchester United for his team, he would only have Eric Cantona on his bench. That's how loyal he is to his boys. He's become like Don Revie used to be at Leeds, or Shankly at Liverpool. I am proud of that."

The England striker Alan Shearer is likely to miss out on the European Footballer of the Year award. Newcastle's pounds 15m man is third behind German defender Matthias Sammer and Barcelona's Brazilian striker, Ronaldo, in a poll organised by France Football magazine. Shearer is also in the running for the World Footballer of the Year award along with Ronaldo and Milan's Liberian striker, George Weah.

Jay Notley will plead with the Football Association to help him save his football career. The 18-year-old faces a lengthy ban from the game and the sack by Charlton if he is found guilty of misconduct after a random test detected a combination of drugs in his system at the start of November.

He will face a Football Association disciplinary commission today to explain how he came to have traces of cocaine, cannabis and Ecstasy in his blood. Notley, who has been suspended since last month, is the first player to provide a positive test from nearly 300 tests this season.