Sir Alex Ferguson has named Paul Gascoigne his biggest transfer regret when he was manager of Manchester United.
The Red Devils were in pole position to sign Gascoigne from Newcastle United in 1988, with the former England international even promising Ferguson that he would join the Old Trafford club, but he ultimately transferred to Tottenham Hotspur for a then record British fee of £2.2m.
The mercurial midfielder would go on to help Spurs win the 1991 FA Cup at the expense of Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, but for Gascoigne the final was marred by a cruciate ligament injury he sustained which would keep him out of action for the entirety of the 1991/92 season.
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He eventually joined Lazio and went on to enjoy spells at Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton, but for Ferguson, Gascoigne’s career will always carry a ‘what-if’ footnote, with the legendary Glaswegian once again reiterating his regret at having not landed the once unique attacking midfielder.
Ferguson told the UTD Podcast: “In reality, you have to say, there’s only one that always comes to my mind and that’s Gascoigne.
“He was absolutely fantastic. I think if we’d have got him, he would have had a great career, I really do. I’m not saying he didn’t have a good career but he would have had a better career with us.
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“We had Geordies in our squad like Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce plus Bobby Charlton. Sir Bobby would have been a fantastic mentor to him because he’s such a fantastic man and even Gary Pallister, although he was from Middlesbrough and I know they don’t count that as a Geordie … someone who understands the culture like Gary would.
“He promised to sign for us and I went on holiday. I got a phonecall from the front desk from Martin Edwards saying he’d signed for Tottenham. He signed for Tottenham because they bought his mother a house for £80,000 and, dearie me, I couldn’t believe it, you know. He was a fantastic player.”