Arsenal First Division title-winner Alan Smith has recalled how Alex Ferguson tried to swoop in to sign him before his move to the Gunners.
Smith broke through at Leicester, impressing in a partnership alongside Gary Lineker, before moving to Arsenal in 1987.
He won two First Division titles in north London, also claiming the Golden Boot twice.
But things would have been different had Ferguson got his way.
In his new autobiography, ‘Heads Up: My Life Story’, Smith recalls how the Manchester United manager phoned him to try and persuade him to join them instead.
‘The phone rang. It was around half past seven one winter’s evening in early 1987. I was sat in the living room with Mom and Dad, just about to watch Coronation Street, a habit in our family since the series began,’ Smith writes.
‘Mom went to answer the phone, which sat on a small table out in the hall. After a few seconds she returned to the lounge.
‘”Alan, it’s Alex Ferguson,” she said, a little hesitantly. “He says he wants to speak to you.”
‘”What, the Alex Ferguson, Mom?” I was shocked to say the least. “Do you mean the Manchester United manager?”
‘”Well, yes, I think so, dear.”
‘”Hello?” I said, nervously picking up the phone.
‘”Yes, hello, Alan. Alex Ferguson here. Alan, I know Arsenal are interested but I’d like you to wait till the end of the season. I want you to sign for Manchester United.”
‘In fairness, Ferguson’s revelation should have made me think. You don’t turn down a club of that stature lightly, even if they are suffering at that particular time. Sure to recover eventually, they may never come knocking again. But I was unequivocal that night talking to their manager.
‘”I’m sorry, Mr Ferguson, but I’ve already made up my mind. I’m going to sign for Arsenal. I want to sign for Arsenal.” The conversation after that didn’t last long.
‘”OK, son, if you’ve made up your mind. No problem. I wish you good luck.”‘