Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Wayne Rooney twice rejected a move to Old Trafford before becoming one of the best signings made by the Scot during his tenure as the Red Devils' boss. The greatest manager in the Premier League era was adamant that he wanted the youngster to join the club, and finally signed him in the third attempt.
The 30-year-old forward joined the 20-time English champions from Everton in 2004 in a £25.6m ($38.8m) deal, which was then the record for the most expensive signing for a player under the age of 20. Rooney was 18 when he made the move from Merseyside to Manchester.
"Jim Ryan came back from one of our academy games at the 14 years level and he said 'I've seen a player'," Ferguson told ITV, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
"And he said the boy is Wayne Rooney and we tried to get him because there's a window at the end of the season - it's a one week window - where we can entice or approach a boy from another club to come join your academy, but it failed."
"The boy wanted to stay at Everton - at that time he had a love of the club and he's an Everton fan," he explained.
"When he got to 16 we tried again. We approached him to join as a 16-year-old, but once again he refused. Then I think everyone saw the highlights when he scored that goal against Arsenal. It confirmed exactly what Jim Ryan had said. This boy was going to be a United player."
Sir Alex, as he is fondly known, was impressed with Rooney during his performance against United in February 2004 at Goodison Park, when he came on and almost denied his current employers all three points. The Red Devils were cruising at 3-0, but following his introduction they clawed their way back to make it 3-3, but a late goal from Ruud van Nistelrooy gave Ferguson's team the win.
"And then he came on as a sub against us and we beat them 4-3 and he missed a sitter in that game. But he came on as 17-year-old lad. After that, I had Walter Smith as my assistant and he said 'we've got to get this kid, we've got to get him', and that started the process of the bid," the former United boss added.
"Eventually we got it done in my office after we played Everton. There was Bill Kenwright, Maurice Watkins and David Moyes, obviously, arguing over the deal and we eventually got it done."
Rooney has gone on to make 344 Premier League appearances for the Old Trafford club since his arrival from Merseyside, and has scored 176 goals. He has won the league five times, the FA Cup on three occasions and the Champions League in 2008 and is currently the skipper under Dutch manager Louis van Gaal.