Ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is celebrating his 80th birthday today, December 31, 2021.
The legendary Scotsman is widely regarded as one of the most successful managers in the history of football, having won several trophies with the Reds.
The two-time UEFA Champions League-winning manager was once interested in bringing Michael Essien to Old Trafford but his best efforts weren’t enough.
Speaking at the Aspire For Sport conference in Doha a decade ago, Ferguson explained why Manchester United missed out on the Ghana midfielder.
According to him, the club couldn’t get a work permit for Essien, who had trials with the team as a teenager.
He further stated that by the time Essien became mature at Lyon, Chelsea beat Manchester United to his signature after making a better offer.
“Essien was 17 and it was difficult to get a work permit for him. Also, he had no European passport so we had to let him go,” Ferguson said.
“Lyon always wanted the best buyers for their players and Chelsea gave the best offer. So he (Essien) joined Chelsea.”
Essien went ahead to star for Lyon, where he won two Ligue 1 titles and became one of the most coveted talents across Europe.
He subsequently made a big-money move to Stamford Bridge in 2005 to play under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho.
The Blues spent £24.4 million to prise Essien away from Lyon, making him the club’s record signing at the time.
The Ghanaian went on to enjoy massive success at Chelsea, winning multiple titles, including the Premier League and the Champions League.