Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he twice failed to sign Wayne Rooney from Everton before finally getting his man.
Rooney joined United in 2004 at the age of 18 for around £28m, but Ferguson says that if he had had his way then the current England captain would have moved to Old Trafford up to five years earlier.
The Everton youngster rejected a move to the Red Devils after being spotted at Under-14 level, and again turned down a move at the age of 16.
Ferguson told ITV Sport: "[Youth coach] Jim Ryan came back from one of our academy games at the 14 years level and he said 'I've seen a player' and he said that the boy is Wayne Rooney.
"The boy wanted to stay at Everton - at that time he had a love of the club and he is an Everton fan. When he got to 16 we tried again. We approached him to join, but once again he refused.
"Then I think that 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."
Rooney, who can become England's all-time record goalscorer against San Marino tomorrow, has scored 234 goals in 478 games in all competitions for United.