Manchester United and Ireland have shared a deep association over the years with Paul McGrath, Denis Irwin, Roy Keane and John O’Shea just some of the Irish players to have been successful at the club over the years.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, former Chelsea star, Damien Duff has revealed he twice had the opportunity to move to Old Trafford but both moves failed to materialise despite talking to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Speaking on the potential move to the club he supported as a boy, Duff said:
“I spoke to them a few times.
“I wanted it to happen but the fee back then was for £17m. I don’t know what the equivalent fee is now – but in 2003, that was a massive deal. Alex Ferguson spoke with me the summer I left for Chelsea (in 2003) and also the summer before, after the World Cup.
“What happened was this. Roman Abramovich had bought Chelsea that summer. They had the money. The deal was done. I thought about it for a week and when I saw the squad they were building, I just knew I had to go there to further my career.”
It seems inconceivable now in current climate when Manchester United have spent £89m on Paul Pogba, that just fourteen years ago the club were unwilling to splash £17m on the Irish International who had a bright future in the game and had just starred at the 2002 Japan & Korea World Cup.
Chelsea signed the Blackburn star for what was record fee at the time, and while Manchester United would go on to sign a certain Cristiano Ronaldo that summer, things could have been very different for both Duff and United.
The Dublin man did go on to win two Premier League titles and a League cup with Chelsea and joined them at a time when the Jose Mourinho era was about to take off and as a result, can have no regrets.
Damien McEvoy Pundit Arena