Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed how former Scotland and Rangers manager Walter Smith convinced him to step up his efforts to sign Wayne Rooney for Manchester United.
After four years of trying to prise the striker away from Everton, Rooney become the most expensive 18-year-old when he finally made the £27 million switch in 2004.
It was money well spent after Rooney broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s 44-year-old all-time scoring record for United when he notched his 250th goal in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Stoke City.
Ferguson insists former Everton boss Smith, who was his assistant manager at Old Trafford, played his part in bringing the England marksman to United.
Ferguson said: “When he was 14 years of age, Jim Ryan (United director of youth football) had flagged him up from the Everton academy and it was something that we paid attention to but he wouldn’t leave their academy at that time.
“When he became 16 we tried again but he still wouldn’t leave.
“Then when Walter Smith became assistant, he said ‘you need Rooney, he’s the best young player in the game.’
“And that’s when we started to be serious. We made overtures to Everton, they of course resisted but we kept at it. At the end of the day it came down to a price.”
Speaking to the BBC, Ferguson added: “It was decided when we played Everton at Old Trafford. We had Bill Kenwright, David Moyes, Maurice Watkins, David Gill and myself, thrashing out the deal.
“We thrashed out the deal – £27m, 18 years of age.”