Jim White: What I've Learned

To football fans, deadline day is known as Jim White Day. Here, the Sky Sports News presenter — aka the Peter Snow of the transfer window — discusses his craziest 24 hours of the year.

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The transfer window deadline is like an election night. There's an electricity and a great unpredictability to it all, and football agents and managers are like politicians – you very rarely get a straight answer from them on deals

Fans will do anything to get on the telly. They turn up at the training ground in t-shirts, braving force-10 gales to stand behind one of our reporters for 12 hours. They get soaked, but some of them hang in there all night.

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The countdown gets bigger every year. I've become the face of the window on Sky Sports, along with my co-host Natalie Sawyer, and I'm thrilled about that. I was in Sao Paolo in Brazil recently, when two guys from Coventry came up to me in a restaurant and asked if I was looking forward to deadline day. I said, "Lads, we're in Sao Paolo. Surely there are other distractions?"

Top teams are constantly trying to steal players from one another. There's a manic scene going on amongst the top clubs because everyone's out to do business under the noses of their main competitors. It happened last time when Chelsea got Willian, even though he had completed a medical at Spurs. It's fascinating. There's virtual theft going on in front of us.

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There's a lot of mickey taking going on. A few years ago, a Spurs supporter emailed the studio claiming he'd spotted Kaka waiting at Seven Sisters station waiting to be picked up.

Everyone needs to bring their A-game on transfer deadline day. Even the cameramen on the road, because somebody unexpected might get out of a car at the training ground, or a newly-signed player might jump into a people carrier at a stadium, usually at night when the car park's in total darkness.

An Arsenal fan once wrecked his TV because Sky Sports News cut to a commercial break. I was teasing the audience with the news of a big signing at the Emirates. I said, "Gunners fans: you do not want to miss this…" and then we cut to the ads and in frustration he chucked something at the screen and it shattered. It turned out the signing was [£40 million German international] Mesut Ozil, but the guy didn't find out until much later.

Ninety per cent certain is never good enough. I'm working with various sources – reporters, agents and players; managers like Harry Redknapp and chairmen like Wigan's Dave Whelan have called me in ad breaks to deliver news, and I'm reliant on my sources. But if we can't trust the info, we won't run the story. There's nothing worse than having to admit a mistake on air and thankfully, I've never had to do that.

Sometimes we become part of the news ourselves. I've been told by managers that we've given them a glimmer of hope that a deal might go through for them. Some very high profile people in the game say they can't keep their eyes off us.

It takes me 24 hours to recover afterwards. A day after the window closes, that's when it hits me – I'm shattered. I'll look back and think, "Was that as nuts as I thought it was?"

I was caught up in the Gareth Bale to Madrid situation. The day before he signed, I got a call from his agent to tell me the deal was happening. So, the evening before deadline night, instead of sitting in a darkened room preparing myself, I was in a cab to Luton airport to grab Gareth who was getting a private plane to Madrid.

The managers don't like the window. You'll hear a few grumbling, like Arsene Wenger, but basically, football is an entertainment business and deadline night is box office stuff. I love being part of it.

Jim White presents round the clock coverage of transfer deadline day on 31 January on Sky Sports News

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