Alexander Hleb got a character reference for Birmingham deal …from Fergie

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Er… was Arsene Wenger’s mobile going to voicemail then?



Ex-Arsenal zombie Alexander Hleb’s season-long move to Birminghamyesterday was only made possible after Brum gaffer Alex McLeish presented unconvinced work permit officials with a letter of recommendation – from Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Spoiler can only assume that, by then, a goalkeeperless Arsene Wengerhad already gone into hiding.

The Sun reports Fergie wrote a testimonial assuring suits at the immigration department Hleb would be key to Birmingham’s Premier League campaign, which eventually persuaded them to issue the work permit and allow the transfer to go through.

The 29-year-old Belarusian has signed with an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season, and yesterday claimed to have turned down two Champions League clubs – Benfica and Spurs – as well as Liverpool, before choosing to head up to St. Andrews:

I had several options to chose from — Liverpool, Tottenham, Benfica. That is why my final decision came so late because I had to think all the options over. Birmingham looked like a club who wanted me more than the others — that’s why I preferred them.

It was also important that I know the English Premier League very well. But Birmingham is a perfect option for me now when most of all I need to play.

I realize it is not quite the same as Arsenal, playing in the Champions League, but first of all I need to get back to my old form.

To be honest, I got a lot of things wrong in the last 18 months so Birmingham is a new chance for me.

Hleb was one of three Birmingham deadline day signings which included Spartak Moscow centre-half Martin Jiranek and Chilean winger Jean Beausejour, who are both quite good on Football Manager. So well done Alex McLeish.

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