Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson has added Adams to the long-list of players he failed to sign as a youngster.Getty Images

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he tried to sign ex-Arsenal captain Tony Adams during his tenure at Old Trafford. The Scot has revealed he attempt to lure the future England skipper to the club when he was in the reserves in north London.

After breaking into the Gunners first team in the mid-1980s, Adams went on to become one of the most dominating defenders of the modern era, winning four league titles in three different decades as well as three FA Cups, two League Cups and the Uefa Cup Winners' Cup. In addition, Adams won 66 England caps and represented his country in the 1996 and 2000 European Championships and 1998 World Cup before his retirement.

Upon moving to United in November 1986, Ferguson's defence included the likes of Republic of Ireland pair Paul McGrath and Kevin Moran and he has revealed he wanted Adams to lead a new era at the club. After missing out on the now 48-year-old, Ferguson went on to sign Steve Bruce and Viv Anderson in the subsequent off-season to beef up his back line. In an interview with Sky Sports to promote his new book, Leading, Ferguson also admitted how much he admired Jamie Carragher and Gianfranco Zola.

"The three of them epitomise my examples of how people are successful," he said. "For example at United we had plenty of those players but as opponents if you take Tony Adams and Jamie Carragher you would say they weren't the most talented of players. They were not going to carve out defences, they weren't the quickest but they had this inner desire and determination that they were always going to be winners and they influenced all their teams.

"I thought Tony Adams was a United player with an Arsenal shirt on to be honest, I thought he would have been perfect for United. I tried [to sign him] a little bit when he was 19 when he was in the reserves but no chance. Those two are great examples of how far you can go in a game when you have an inner determination and a desire to be successful. You see the careers they had, marvellous.

"Little Zola, he annoyed me. He was one of these players who was unperturbed about who he was playing against and you always see him with a smile on his face and that annoyed me. How can he be enjoying himself playing against United? Nobody else does. He was a fantastic player and it was a joy to watch him and for me to say that of an opponent tells you how much I admired him."