Pep Guardiola acknowledges he 'wasn't good enough' to play for Wigan
MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola could have once played for FA Cup opponents Wigan Athletic but he wasn't good enough, according to the Manchester City manager.
The Catalan takes City to the DW Stadium to face the League One side in the fifth round, 15 years after he nearly signed for Wigan.
Guardiola almost joined City as a player after a trial period under Stuart Pearce, but he joked that both clubs made the right decision to reject him.
"I wasn't good enough. That is the truth," he said at a news conference. "I was old, really old for a footballer to come here. I tried to come here to play in English football but I was not able to.
"It's the same as what happened here with Manchester City and Stuart Pearce. They were so clever.
"They were interested in me. I didn't choose the club. It didn't happen and that's all."
Although a deal fell through, Guardiola made an impression on the then-Wigan boss Paul Jewell, who was impressed that he knew all about his team.
"I got a call from Guardiola's agent and he gave me Pep's number so I rang him and left a message," Jewell has said previously. "Quite remarkably, five minutes later he rang me back. He knew all about Wigan, all about our players -- I was really impressed.
"We had a terrific conversation and he told me he would like to come and play in the Premier League.
"His wages weren't extortionate and he was all set to come when his agent called me a couple of days later saying Pep had received a mind-blowing offer from Qatar. So it was Qatar or Wigan."
Guardiola is close to having a full squad back after Gabriel Jesus returned to full training, although Benjamin Mendy is still several weeks away from recovering from a knee ligament injury.
Second-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is expected to continue his role as the domestic cup keeper by starting against Wigan and Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Arsenal.
"I know for the players, not just Claudio, that when they don't play regularly it's not an easy situation, they are here to play, I understand completely," Guardiola said.
"But there is a line you cannot go through and he was perfect. He is training good as always and when he has to play he knows, always he has to be ready like his teammates."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.