After a glittering professional career spanning two decades that included three Serie A titles, 91 international caps for the Czech Republic and a plethora of prestigious individual awards including the 2003 Ballon d'Or, legendary former Sparta Prague, Lazio and Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved has admitted that not representing Manchester United was the one enduring disappointment from his playing days.
"A regret?" the 44-year-old, who retired in 2009 and was last year appointed as Juve's vice-president, told Czech paper Idnes as relayed by United's official website. "That I never played for Manchester United. I'd have liked that. The transfer was never on the table though, there was only Chelsea [interested in me].
"I liked the generation of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, whom I admired. I was a little bit jealous of [former Czech teammate] Karel Poborsky, who played in Manchester and experienced great matches. I know he still feels that love."
Nedved was linked with United back in 2001 during the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, although the club's apparent refusal to meet Lazio's significant valuation meant that teammate Juan Sebastian Veron moved to Old Trafford instead.
He was again mentioned as a potential target two years later and subsequently claimed in 2004 that he rejected a lucrative multi-million pound move to Chelsea amid reports that Roman Abramovich had been encouraged to sign the player by former Lazio manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Juventus' humiliating relegation to the second tier of Italian football as a result of the 2006 Calciopoli match-fixing scandal threatened something of an inevitable exodus in Turin, but Nedved, likeother top names including Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet, elected to stay put and win Serie B by a comfortable six-point margin.
Current United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was one of the high-profile players to leave the Bianconeri following that demotion, snapped up by Inter Milan for £16.7m ($20.3m). The fiery Swede has won nine domestic titles in three different countries since then and Nedved rates him as his all-time most talented teammate.
"In terms of teammates, I've had a lot and I don't want to offend anyone," he added. "If I had to pick one though, I'd say Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He's a striker who can cut through defences. He has scary power and height, as well as excellent technique. That said, when he came to Juventus, he couldn't finish. What you see today is mainly down to the fact Fabio Capello took him for a half-an-hour of shooting practice after every training session."