Friday, September 29, 2023

Danny Murphy recalls training ground incident that led late Fulham owner declaring he had ‘big balls’

Danny Murphy recalls the moment he stood up to ex-Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed only to be commended on the size of his balls.

Al Fayed died last month at the age of 94 and is well remembered for his 16 years as owner of the west London club.

Mohamed Al Fayed spent 16 years as Fulham owner before selling the club in 2013

Danny Murphy was signed by Al Fayed from Tottenham in 2007

The former Harrods owner was known for his many business ventures and after taking charge of Fulham in 1997, he guided the Cottagers from the old Division Two (now League One) to the Premier League.

His success transcended to the continent as Fulham reached the 2010 Europa League final, eventually losing to Atletico Madrid.

Murphy was signed by Al Fayed in 2007 and although he carried a fearsome aura around him, the former Liverpool midfielder once went head-to-head with him after a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City, with a less-expected outcome.

“One day we had a meeting, we’d been pumped by Man City who had just spent millions,” Murphy recalls. “He came into the training ground and sat us down and gave us a bit of a rollicking which was nonsensical.

“I stood up because I thought, I can’t have that. I’ve got to explain to him that they’ve got big stars and spent lots of money and we’ve got this – it’s one of those things, it happens.

“So I got up and spoke and when I finished there was a bit of a silence in the room and thought to myself, what have I just done because he pays the wages, doesn’t he?

“And he went: ‘Mr Murphy, you have big balls, sit down.’ And the communication after that day between me and him got better.”

Murphy told talkSPORT that Al Fayed often leaned on him for advice on players and managers particularly as their relationship grew closer.

Al Fayed once bizarrely erected a statue of Michael Jackson outside Craven Cottage

“I got closer with him as time went on,” Murphy said. “He called me occasionally for various opinions on coaches and players.

“Randomly from nowhere he’d ask me about a player but it was always concise.

“He had a warmth about him. When he came in the changing room or around the pitch, he’d chat and he’d give his little football opinion which was normally not particularly insightful but he cared about the club and he always said ‘pick up the phone if there’s something you want to talk about’.”

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