Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs is set to play his 1000th game as a professional when the Premier League leaders face Norwich at Old Trafford on Saturday, but the Welsh veteran's career could have taken a different path had Manchester City taken the advice of one of their trusted scouts.
Giggs was under the tutelage of Dennis Schofield, one of Manchester City's talent spotters, during his formative years, and established himself as one of the most exciting young players in the country in his time playing for Deans Youth Club.
Schofield brought Giggs to the attention of Manchester City when he was aged only nine, and says the reigning Premier League champions were willing to pull out all the stops to ensure they beat Manchester United to his signing.
"At nine I had him down at City," Schofield told the Daily Mail. "They rolled out the red carpet for him, those comedians Little and Large, big City fans, they put down a red carpet for him too.
"For many years there was a photo on the wall at City of Ryan playing for them.
"I said to Ken Barnes [City's chief scout] at the time: 'On Ryan's 14th birthday make sure you are in his house because United are tapping him.'"
Schofield was assured by Manchester City that an agreement was in place with the parents of Giggs that the youngster would join the club the day he turned 14, but he was allowed to slip through their fingers and sign for Manchester United instead.
Rather than Manchester City representatives being at the Giggs household the day Ryan became 14, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and chief scout Joe Brown were at the teenager's home.
Losing out on Giggs to Manchester United was enough to make Schofield leave his position with City.
"For that calibre of boy you need to be first, there, sitting on them," he added. "Ryan was a United fan but I was very disappointed with City. I left them as a result."
There are no hard feelings between Schofield and Giggs, however, and the 39-year-old - who has will extend his stay with Manchester United by another season - still remains in contact with his octogenarian former mentor.
"I've stayed in touch with Ryan the whole time, he still comes down the club the odd time," said Schofield. "I've watched him grow into a superstar."
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