Former Liverpool midfielder and manager Graeme Souness has revealed that he had the opportunity to sign Manchester United legends Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona before Alex Ferguson.
French international legend, and now UEFA President, advised Souness that he should sign Cantona – but the Scot thought that he would upset the balance in the dressing room and be a problem player.
Danish international Schmeichel was also turned down by Souness after he wrote to Anfield asking the club for a trial while still playing for Brondby. But Souness turned his request down.
And the former Rangers player-manager has admitted that he regrets not snapping the pair up in hindsight, following their glittering spells at Old Trafford.
“Ron Yeats was the chief scout and he came into my office one day and showed me a letter.” Souness told Simon Hughes for the book ‘Men In White Suits’.
“It read: “I am a Danish goalkeeper who has been a Liverpool supporter all my life. I am willing to pay for my own travel expenses. Can I come to Melwood for a week’s trial?”
“I was trying to edge Bruce out. But it was proving difficult. I thought if another goalkeeper turned up, we were going to have more problems with Bruce. So it never happened.
“We played Auxerre in the UEFA Cup. After the game, Michel Platini knocks on my office door and comes in. He said he had a player for me. ‘A proper player.’ He told me that he was a problem in France but would be perfect for Liverpool.
“It was another situation where I should have been more open-minded.”
That player was Eric Cantona. He went on to have a trial at Sheffield Wednesday, but they turned him down as well. He eventually signed for Leeds United in 1991 and helped them to win the last Division One title, before the Premier League began, ahead of moving to Old Trafford in 1992.
The Frenchman also bagged goals in two FA Cup finals – which included the winner in the 1996 final over Roy Evans’ Liverpool side. He retired in the Summer of 1997 after becoming a Manchester United legend.
Schmeichel spent eight years at Old Trafford between 1991 and 1999, before departing on a free transfer to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon. He returned to England and played for Aston Villa and Manchester City before retiring.