IT WAS a press conference the like of which Valley Parade had never seen before – or since.

“Beatlemania” was how Geoffrey Richmond described the reaction to Benito Carbone’s unveiling as a City player.

It is 22 years this week since the night the doors of the Bantams Bar were thrown open to the public as well as the media for a chaotic occasion.

“Last season we were boring Bradford but this season we’ll be entertaining Bradford,” crowed the chairman as Carbone sat there centre stage in the bright lights.

There were around 200 fans in Richmond’s estimation – a report in the Daily Mirror recalled “500 beer-swilling gatecrashers”.

Every question from a very sceptical media, questioning the transfer as desperation on City’s part and a nice earner for Carbone, was roundly booed by the crowd. Reporters were drowned out by songs hailing their new hero.

Richmond lapped up every minute and would proudly boast later of being told that it had made great television.

Like the proverbial Mountie, he had been determined to get his man from the moment he had read a transfer tale linking the Italian maverick with Leicester.

Having spotted that on Teletext, the Twitter of its time, he had immediately called newly-appointed boss Chris Hutchings to alert him.

Hutchings was understandably keen but thought City’s chances were hardly great – Richmond, typically, felt otherwise.

Julian Rhodes, interestingly, was not consulted about this daring move. Ironically, he first discovered his club’s plans on a Teletext story.

The shareholder agreement that Richmond had to run any football plans past the Rhodes family clearly did not apply in this case.

Richmond was smitten with the idea of Carbone in a City shirt, remembering a “virtuouso” display against them during the first season in the Premiership.

Carbone, ideally, had wanted to play again in Italy after Aston Villa made it clear at the start of that summer they were not going to keep him.

Fiorentina under Giovanni Trapattoni was his preferred destination back home but the only interest was tentative approaches from Perugia and his former club Napoli.

Richmond eagerly lobbed City’s hat into the ring and discussions were set up. His confidence quickly grew.

He flew to Milan the day before the Bantams Bar soap opera with chief executive Shaun Harvey and Hutchings in a bid to seal the deal.

Richmond, never one to underplay the big occasion, described the potential signing as “the most exciting in the club’s history” – a teaser for fans that had run on the club’s website until the national media broke the news of who it would be.

Six hours of talks with Carbone and his team, described by the Bantams hierarchy as “exhaustive”, had concluded at midnight. They headed for bed believing all was in place.

A press conference had been arranged for the morning to announce a three-year contract for their glittering capture.

But Giovanni Branchini, the barrister heading Carbone’s camp, rejected the £30,000-a-week offer as not enough for his client’s “star status”. There was talk of Coventry launching an 11th-hour attempt to hijack proceedings.

Frantic number crunching followed from City – upping the figures on the table to a £40,000 weekly wage for four years. It was more than a certain David Beckham was taking home from Manchester United at the time.

Richmond also threw in four first-class flights home to Italy per season and a £750,000 five-bedroom luxury house in Leeds. “Yes, we accept” came the reply and City had their £8 million man.

The chairman cancelled his 7.30am flight home and hands were shaken on the deal just after nine. Eight hours later, all were squeezed into the bar in the Kop at Valley Parade.

“We sit comfortably with the package we've negotiated," beamed Richmond to the packed room. Football writers querying that were routinely heckled.

Carbone said: “The money is important but most important was that Bradford showed how much they wanted me.

"Bradford have a big ambition to grow. That's why I decided to come to this club.”

Hutchings talked of signing a “20 goal-a-season striker”. But Carbone would score only five in City’s top-flight demise.

"We were talking about doing better every year than the one before," recalled Carbone in his most recent interview with the Telegraph & Argus in 2020.

"Maybe in two or three seasons, we would try to play maybe for fifth or sixth position in the table.

"I think was he was saying was true. Above me on their list were a lot of big names, Dan Petrescu and Stan Collymore, who signed later.

"There were good players who had played a lot in the Premiership signing for Bradford. But then when we came to the season, it was not really good."

The false dawn of beating and outclassing Chelsea, an illusionary August evening when some left Valley Parade thinking European football was on the cards, was soon followed by the cold reality of relegation with a whimper.

"I think the problem was that many players didn't believe that we could save that season," admitted Carbone. "Maybe they were thinking that we were rubbish but we were much better than where we finished.

"We should have done much better."

Carbone would provide some show-stopping moments with his dazzling skills before eventually leaving City during the administration of 2002, letting them off the hook to the tune of more than £3 million to ensure the club did not go under.