Ten years ago Manchester United took the wrong punt on a South American striker and would have profited from a bounty of silverware if they had signed Ronaldinho instead of Diego Forlan, according the Brazilian hero.
Forlan’s move to Old Trafford went down in folklore – after failing to find the net in his first 26 games – while Ronaldinho sunk English hearts with a sumptuous floated chip over David Seaman at the 2002 World Cup.
The former Ballon d’Or winner was plying his trade with then European minnows PSG and was available for transfer at around the same time as the Argetine striker.
But, unluckily, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to sign Forlan as Ruud van Nistelrooy’s striker partner – he went on to score just 17 goals in 98 games – while Ronaldinho’s move to Barcelona saw him become the world’s greatest player.
“If Manchester United had signed me they would have won more European Cups,” Ronaldinho told sambafoot.com.
“I have played for some of the biggest teams in the world and won everything.”
Ronaldinho’s move to United may have been halted as a certain David Beckham was still chalking his boots on the right flank, the Brazilian’s winger-cum-striker role was still not hitting full heights.
But as Real Madrid snatched Becks from under Barca’s nose the following summer, the Catalan giants reciprocated and vengefully outbid United for Ronaldinho’s signature.
The rest, as they say, is history as the double FIFA World Player of the Year lifted back-to-back La Liga titles and the Champions League.
But Fergie’s heartache would have been healed when a 17-year-old spotted Portuguese teenager with blonde curtains began to fill the boots of Old Trafford’s legendary No. 7 shirt.