Cristiano Ronaldo was this close to making a sensational return to Manchester United back in the summer of 2012 having joined Real Madrid three years prior – but Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans ended talks.
Patrice Evra has revealed how the stunning £160m deal collapsed when it emerged Ferguson was poised to retire from Old Trafford less than 12 months later.
Ferguson was going to re-sign Ronaldo along with Gareth Bale to help him win the Champions League one more time before calling time on his remarkable career.
Evra admits Ronaldo has confirmed to him he intended rejoining the Red Devils.
“You know, you talk about the hardest moments (in my United career) and I would say maybe this (Ferguson’s retirement) is the one, the former French international said.
“Two weeks before that, I remember there was a lot of media saying Ferguson will maybe retire next year, and he said, ‘Patrice, I will never retire. I will be here another 10 years.'
“He then said: ‘My target is I'm 99% sure we will have Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. I just need these two players to win the Champions League again. 99%.'
“And to be fair, when I speak with Cristiano, I ask him and he said ‘yes' to the boss, and was coming to join United. He told me this.”
The deal collapsed when the former United boss confirmed he would be retiring from the game at the end of the 2012/13 season – leaving Evra and his team-mates devastated.
Evra added: “After two weeks, we were in the dressing room waiting. When we arrived at Carrington, I saw all those cameras and I was like: ‘wow, someone has done something wrong. Maybe a player is the story again! Someone has done something wrong, we are in trouble.'
“But we arrived and people said, ‘Guys, you have to stay in the dressing room because the boss wants to have a chat'. And when the boss comes into the dressing room to talk to everyone, it's never good news.
“He came, and he said, ‘I'm really sorry. Some people have said that I'm going to retire even before I say it myself. That's why you saw all those cameras. But I will retire because my wife needs me.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 years ago