Former Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy has revealed Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him for Manchester United but injury ultimately put paid to any chance of him completing a move to Old Trafford.
Bellamy, 35, retired from professional football in 2014 after an eventful career that included two separate spells at Anfield as well as stints with the likes of Newcastle United, Celtic, Manchester City and hometown club Cardiff City.
Renowned for his feisty spirit and unwavering commitment, Ferguson was apparently eager to entice Bellamy to Old Trafford during his four-year spell in the north east. However, the Welshman claims he was suffering from a knee injury at the time that would have no doubt impacted upon his ability to make a success of such a high-profile switch.
"Fergie met with my agent in 2002 and said: 'Can you get him out of Newcastle?'" he revealed in an interview with the Daily Mail.
"The honest truth is my knee. I had just had an operation. I knew that if I went to Man United I would have to hit the ground running and with my knee that would have been impossible. I did think that maybe I should just go and deal with it then. Just get there... but I would have got caught out at United and that would have been terrible.
"I have to live with myself and sometimes that hasn't been easy. But I had to be honest with myself so I was."
Thankfully for Ferguson, failure to complete the signing of Bellamy did not appear to have an overwhelmingly negative effect on Manchester United's domestic fortunes as they took the 2002-03 Premier League title ahead of nearest challengers Arsenal courtesy of 25 goals from the prolific striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Bellamy also claimed he was recently approached by an unnamed club about the possibility of coming out of retirement in order to return to the Premier League, an offer he reluctantly declined as he seeks to move forward in the next phase of his colourful career.
He said: "I had an offer to come and play in the Premier League again. A manager asked me if I could come back and play the last few months of the season.
"I said it wasn't for me. So then he said I could play for 10 minutes here and there. But I believe that once you retire you have to stick to that. I can't tell you which club it was. That wouldn't be fair. But they were serious. There was not a bit of me that was tempted and that was the interesting thing. That part of my life is over."