Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Wayne Rooney twice turned down the opportunity to sign for Manchester United as a teenager before eventually joining the Red Devils from Everton in 2004.
Ahead of this weekend’s Euro 2016 qualifier between England and San Marino, the legendary Ferguson has told ITV Sport that Rooney snubbed a move to United at the ages of 14 and 16 before agreeing to move to Old Trafford two years later.
Rooney angered the Everton faithful after leaving his boyhood club - the team he still supports today - in order to secure a £28 million move to Manchester United. But the forward initially rejected the advances of United in order to stay with his beloved Toffees.
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Ferguson told ITV’s Gabriel Clarke: ”Jim Ryan [Manchester United’s youth coach] came back from one of our academy games at the 14 years level and he said 'I've seen a player’.
“He said the boy is Wayne Rooney and we tried to get him because there's a window at the end of the season - it's a one week window - where we can entice or approach a boy from another club to come join your academy, but it failed.
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"The boy wanted to stay at Everton - at that time he had a love of the club and he's an Everton fan.”
Ferguson: Rooney rejected United again
Ferguson then explained how, two years after Rooney’s first rejection, the Croxteth-born snubbed a move to Manchester United for a second time.
"When he got to 16 we tried again,” the Scot revealed. “We approached him to join as a 16-year-old, but once again he refused. Then I think everyone saw the highlights when he scored that goal against Arsenal. It confirmed exactly what Jim Ryan had said. This boy was going to be a United player."
United finally got their man in 2004
And so it proved. In August 2004, shortly after Rooney had impressed for England at the European Championships in Portugal, Manchester United finally got their man.
"And then he came on as a sub against us and we beat them 4-3 and he missed a sitter in that game,” Ferguson added. “But he came on as 17-year-old lad. After that, I had Walter Smith as my assistant and he said 'we've got to get this kid, we've got to get him', and that started the process of the bid.
"Eventually we got it done in my office after we played Everton. There was Bill Kenwright, Maurice Watkins and David Moyes, obviously, arguing over the deal and we eventually got it done."
Manchester United fans: do you believe Wayne Rooney will return to Everton in the next couple of seasons? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!