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Paul Gascoigne has revealed he pleaded in vain with Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him on his return from Italy.
Gascoigne, then 21, told Ferguson he would sign for Manchester United from Newcastle in 1988 and the Scottish boss went on holiday to find he then signed for Tottenham for a then British record fee of £2million.
And that was a costly decision for the ex-England star as it would prove to be his only chance of working with Ferguson, who has gone on to lead United to 11 league titles and two Champions League crowns.
Gascoigne contacted the legendary boss towards the end of his three-year spell with Lazio in 1995 and the former midfielder was bitterly disappointed his chance of moving to Old Trafford had gone.
"I knew I wasn't going there," he told the Daily Express. "You only mess with Sir Alex once.
"I was fortunate to play under Terry Venables, Bobby Robson and Walter Smith. I didn't get to work with Sir Alex Ferguson and it's a massive regret. I would have loved to have been managed by him."
Gascoigne arrived on the global stage at the 1990 World Cup and although a proposed move to Lazio fell through after a serious knee injury in the 1991 FA Cup final, he completed a move to Italy the following summer.
But his time in Serie A was blighted by a series of injuries and Gascoigne was looking to leave Lazio in 1995.
At the time, Ferguson had French star Eric Cantona as United's talisman and creative fulcrum, and Gascoigne, then 28, instead left for Rangers.
"He talked to me but wouldn't sign me," Gascoigne explained. "I asked him to but he was deciding whether Eric Cantona was staying at the time. Cantona stayed, so fair enough.
"But I just knew that I wasn't going there, even if Cantona had left. You only mess with Sir Alex once.
"I did once go to the training ground and he showed me round and we had a chat. He is a great man. I am just glad he forgave me eventually for not signing for United that first time, but it took him six years to speak to me again."
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