Celtic supremo Dermot Desmond has revealed he sensationally tried to convince Sir Alex Ferguson to quit Manchester United and move to Glasgow.
And he’s detailed how Ferguson played a big part in Martin O’Neill swapping Leicester City for Celtic three years after the audacious bid.
In a rare and extensive interview with The Athletic, Desmond explains that he offered to double the wage of Sir Alex when attempting to get him to leave Old Trafford.
The former Rangers striker wasn’t worried about his past but did feel that winning the Champions League was so important to his legacy that he couldn’t move.
It was a bid to end Rangers’ run for 10 in a row in 1997 when Desmond approached the former Aberdeen boss, before eventually hiring Wim Jansen.
He stayed just one season as he took the title to Celtic Park but it could have been very different if Ferguson had agreed to move.
Desmond said: “I had asked Alex Ferguson to be manager of Celtic around 1997 and I offered to pay the money myself, twice the salary he was on at Manchester United.
“He said he would like to consider it, even though he had a Rangers background. He said, ‘I’d like to do it, to follow in the footsteps of Jock Stein,’ but he said his overriding ambition was to win the Champions League with Manchester United.
“In fact, my good friend JP McManus and I were his guests at the (1999) final in Barcelona, where he fulfilled his dream.”
Dermot Desmond et al. posing for the camera© SNS Group
After Jansen came Dr Jozef Venglos and then the failed dream team of John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish before Martin O’Neill joined.
That sparked Celtic off on a successful run and Desmond revealed that how Ferguson played a role in getting O’Neill north of the border.
He added: “In 2000, I went back and asked him if he was to pick his replacement at that time who would it be. He said there were three people: Dave O’Leary, Alan Curbishley and Martin O’Neill. I said the one I’m interested in is Martin O’Neill.
“I had previously asked a prominent broadcaster if Martin (then managing Leicester in the Premier League) would be interested in the job and I got a response in the negative.
“I then asked Alex if he would speak with Martin, to see if he would meet with me, and the response was that he would be very interested in meeting.
“So I met Martin for dinner and we got on very well. I introduced him to Pat and Brian and they also felt he was a remarkable individual, so we hired Martin.”