Manchester United secured the signing of Ryan Giggs thanks to a ‘slap-up’ meal, scout Eric Mullender has claimed.
The former schoolteacher was working for Manchester City, and had been taking the Welshman to training and practice matches for three-and-a-half years.
He’d even brought the player’s boots, but saw what could have been a potentially defining transfer go the way of the Citizens’ local rivals.
“He was playing at Under-10s level for Deans FC in Salford. He had that lovely left peg, was quick and really took my eye,” said Mullender, according to The Daily Star.
“At Manchester City we kept inviting Ryan down for practice matches. I used to take him everywhere and buy his football boots.
“In those days you couldn’t sign boys until they were 14. When I found out he was going to Manchester United I was gutted. That was it, a slap-up meal and he was gone.”
Sir Alex Ferguson and then-assistant manager Brian Kidd had pounced, taking the young player and his family to a posh restaurant for some fine dining.
Giggs was just a week away from reaching the crucial age where he could sign schoolboy forms, and the Old Trafford outfit struck just in time.
The 39-year-old, who turns 40 on Friday, has gone on to become a Manchester United legend over the next 25-year.
He’s won 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions League trophies since – suggesting the move to the Red Devils was a good one.
Manchester City fans must surely be thinking what might have been however, and after 43-years of scouting for the club, Mullender certainly knows this is the one that got away for the Etihad Stadium outfit.