“It was really close – that is the truth.”
Fabio Capello has revealed he spoke to Manchester United representatives about potentially replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Capello had just won Serie A with Roma when news filtered out of Manchester that Ferguson planned to retire at the end of the 2001/02 Premier League season.
Sir Alex Ferguson
United immediately began the process of identifying a suitable successor to the Scot and while Ferguson himself recommended three candidates from the UK, the club’s hierarchy looked to Italy.
“It was really close – that is the truth,” Capello told Four Four Two. “I can’t deny that I would have loved to train Manchester United.
“After winning Serie A with Roma in 2001, I spoke to representatives who came to visit me in Rome, but we couldn’t sign anything because Sir Alex decided not to retire in the end.
“He phoned me a few days later to apologise, because his wife was trying to convince him to leave, but it was a friendly conversation and I told him that nothing was wrong.”
Midway through the 2001/02 season, Ferguson shelved his retirement plans and while United finished that campaign trophyless, they went on to win the Premier League the following season.
As for Capello, he ended up moving to Juventus in 2004 before taking over at Real Madrid in 2006, when he crossed paths with United legend David Beckham.
Capello had an unceremonious falling-out with Beckham at the Bernabeu and insisted that the English winger would not play again for Real Madrid in early 2007 however, a month later, Capello reinstated Beckham.
Capello explained: “In February 2007, the team suffered a negative streak of results, we’d fallen too far behind Barça in the league and had a difficult match in San Sebastian against Real Sociedad. I decided that the time was right to lift Beckham’s punishment.”