Cristiano Ronaldo was the subject of interest from Deportivo La Coruna while he was at Sporting Lisbon, just before he sealed a Manchester United switch.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was only just breaking into European football’s elite stage in Portugal as an 18-year-old when he suddenly became a top target for a number of huge clubs.
AS reports that one such club was La Liga outfit Deportivo, who turned down a golden opportunity to sign Ronaldo during the 2002-2003 season.
At the time, La Coruna were major players at the top of the Spanish league, with a gifted young squad which was also starring in the Champions League.
Former club president Augusto Lendoiro has revealed why the club declined the chance to bring Ronaldo to the Ciudad Deportiva de Riazor, as he told AS: “Beci (Eduardo López Beci), the sporting director at Deportivo at that time, saw Cristiano Ronaldo play, and told us about him.
“Then we saw some of his videos when he was 17 or 18 and we asked how much he would cost.
“They asked us for 11 or 12 million euros and that was the end of the party for us, as we couldn’t pay that amount.”
Shortly after Deportivo dropped out of the race for Ronaldo, Man United swooped in with a £12 million offer (fee confirmed by The Daily Mirror) which Sporting duly accepted and the rest is, as they say, history.
The Portuguese superstar went on to win three Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup, one League Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup during his time at Old Trafford, before departing for Real Madrid in 2009.
His career took off into the stratosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he won four more European Cups, while also securing a European Championships victory at international level with Portugal in 2016.
Ronaldo is now plying his trade with Juventus in Serie A and he is one course for more silverware come May, but how different might his career have turned out had he joined Deportivo over United all those years ago?
We will never know the answer to that question, but it is almost a certainty that the Spanish club regrets their decision to this day, having watched the prolific forward blossom into one of the greatest players in history from afar.