Harry Redknapp claims Sir Alex Ferguson sent Joe Cole a Manchester United No.10 shirt to try and tempt him to move to Old Trafford.
Cole, 35, who now plays for Tampa Bay Rowdies, was one of the country’s hottest young properties when he burst onto the scene with West Ham with in the late 1990s.
His skill even prompted football legend Pele to liken his ability to that of a Brazilian.
“The Number 10 for Chelsea, Joe Cole, is a very good player and when I saw him against Charlton he was excellent in the first half,” said Pele, when Cole was at Stamford Bridge.
“He has the skills of a Brazilian but he needs to learn when to show the skills and when to play the simple game.”
Sir Alex Ferguson was also a big fan of the former England international and writing in his new book ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Manager’ Redknapp claimed Ferguson was so desperate to sign Cole he sent him a shirt and let him on the team bus to Wembley.
“I remember Joe playing against Norwich in ankle-deep mud against kids two years older and still dominating the game,” Redknapp wrote.
“Everybody got to know about him. Sir Alex Ferguson sent him a number 10 shirt and, inside, there was a message: ‘This is your number when you play for Manchester United’.
“They took him to the Cup final on the coach. Arsenal and Chelsea were also after him.
“Joe’s dad, George, would come to me and say that he was going to Manchester United or Liverpool to train for a week.
“I could have reported them as they were all breaking the rules but, if I had, he’d have probably still gone and we might have lost him.
“I would just say, ‘Great, George, but this is where he belongs. We want him here. He’s happy here but, if he wants to have a look round, not a problem.”