Liverpool were left disappointed after hearing Cristiano Ronaldo had snubbed them in back in 2003 and agreed to join fierce rivals Manchester United instead.
According to Phil Thompson, who was assistant boss at the time, Liverpool believed they had a £4m deal for Ronaldo tied up.
However, news that he was instead joining United for £12.24m almost made, according to Thompson, then boss Gerard Houllier ‘almost choke’.
Thompson had dinner with football agent Tony Henry in Lisbon at the time. He recalled how he believed the deal was done.
He told The Athletic: “I can still remember Tony’s exact words. It was all very nice and relaxed.
“It’s £4million and it can be paid over the four years of his contract, so £1million a year.
“That seemed very reasonable. Then I asked about the salary and Tony told me it was £1million a year, net.”
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Ronaldo wage reservations
Thompson and Houllier did, initially, have reservations about the teenager’s salary demands.
However, all those fears were blown away once they went to watch Ronaldo in action at the Toulon tournament.
The pair travelled back to Merseyside satisfied that the deal was done.
So to find out on TV that their bitter rivals had beaten them to the punch and gazumped their offer came as a huge shock.
Thompson said: “On the Tuesday morning, we were having lunch at the training ground and it came up on the yellow strap on Sky Sports. ‘Manchester United have signed Cristiano Ronaldo for £12.2million.’
“Gerard and myself almost choked on our food. I can remember Gerard jumping up and saying, ‘What the hell has gone on there?’”.
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