James McPake admits he thought Dundee’s move for Leigh Griffiths had gone up in smoke after a late twist in the transfer saga.
Courier Sport revealed Hibs had a loan bid accepted by Celtic on Monday evening, the day before the deadline.
And when the Dens Park boss couldn’t get Griffiths to answer his phone, McPake feared the worst.
“There was nothing simple about it,” McPake said.
“And I don’t mean Leigh. The Leigh bit was easy, but it was complicated because we put offers in to Celtic and it was going back and forth.
“People say because we had Gordon (Strachan) it would be simple but no. I wish it was that easy.
“If it was that easy, the deal would have been done at the start of the transfer window.
“But Celtic are a business, as well as a football club and Leigh is on good money at that football club.
“So we had to find a way to finance the deal to get him to Dundee within our budget, which we did.
“It took until the night before deadline day for them to accept it but once they did they told us they had also had an offer from another club.
“That is when it became difficult and that’s when there was a five or 10 minute period when he didn’t answer his phone to me and I was ready to drive to his house!”
‘He’d given me his word’
No hasty drive south was needed on Monday night, however, as Griffiths assured his old team-mate he’d be at Dens Park the following morning.
McPake, though, admits he still had a niggling worry.
“The first thing we did was get him up to Dundee because I knew that once we had him in Dundee, he wasn’t getting out of Dundee!” he joked.
“I did sit up until I knew he was in Dundee.
“Things got complicated when the other club agreed things with Celtic. But he said ‘look, I gave you my word, I’m coming’.
“When I was at Hibs I told him ‘I will back you in everything you do. I will always be here for you if you need me’.
“He said ‘you gave me your word, years ago’.
“So he said that having given me his word, he was coming to Dundee.
“He said: ‘I will be at the club at eight in the morning’ and he was, he was here at five to eight.”
Signing Leigh Griffiths the footballer
McPake, however, insists his personal relationship with Griffiths wasn’t the motivating factor for bringing the Scotland man to Dens.
“I’m not signing Leigh Griffiths my friend I am signing Leigh Griffiths the footballer,” he added.
“I am excited about it and there is good reason for that. Because there is still a fantastic footballer in there and it’s a challenge to get the best out of him but we believe we can do that.
“We will get him right, get him fit and firing on all cylinders, and we will have a good Leigh Griffiths on the pitch and the Dundee fans will be happy.
“He had two good spells at Hibs and we are aiming to make sure he has two good spells at Dundee.”