Manchester United made a Christmas approach for Paolo di Canio during his playing days only for the Italian to reject the offer because of the loyalty he felt towards West Ham.
Di Canio established himself as one of the finest players in the Premier League during his halcyon days with the Hammers but resisted the temptation to leave Upton Park for a club of more prominent standing.
The former Sunderland manager claims Manchester United to be among those teams he rejected while with West Ham, with Sir Alex Ferguson making a direct phonecall to Di Canio in the hope of convincing him to move to Old Trafford.
Di Canio admits he initially believed the call from the Manchester United manager to be a practical joke but, once he realised it was genuine, still declined to offer to join the Red Devils.
"It was Christmas and I got a call on my phone, and it was Ferguson," Di Canio told Fox Sport in Italy.
"You could tell from his voice that he had been drinking and he asked me if I wanted to join Manchester United.
"To begin with, I thought it was a joke from a friend and I told him where to go three times before I realised it really was him.
"I then said no. I was captain of West Ham and I couldn't accept."
Di Canio spent four-and-half seasons with West Ham, scoring 52 times in 141 games, before eventually leaving the club following their relegation from the top-flight in 2003.
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