Rio Ferdinand confirmed that Manchester United tried to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo last summer and that he was a part of the campaign to bring the Portuguese superstar back to Old Trafford.
Speculation mounted that Ronaldo could return to United as he pondered his future at Real Madrid last summer.
However, the Portugal international ultimately decided to stay in the Spanish capital.
“He was one of the most dialed people on my phone at the time, but I think the opportunity has gone now,” said Ferdinand, in quotes appearing in the Daily Mirror.
“If we could have done it, I think it would have been last summer. He’s signed a new deal at Real now.
“As footballers, you don’t really let on too much to each other. It’s like a chess game and in those situations you have got your one and two first-choice moves or scenarios that you want to happen.
“But if he was going to leave Real Madrid, I think Manchester United would have been the place he would have come to. That’s my personal view, but no-one will ever know now.”
Ferdinand is backing his old team-mates to be crowned as FIFA Player of the Year ahead of Lionel Messi as the Ballon d'Or award is handed out once again.
“We had a debate about it in training, and I think he has been the best in the calendar year, definitely, he’s the best,” added Ferdinand.
“Look at his goals. He’s scored more goals than some clubs have in the calendar year.
“He is a great model to any young player to look up to. He got to being World Player of the Year back in 2008 and he wasn’t satisfied.
“Ronaldo has gone on again to another level and he should have won it a couple of seasons ago when Real Madrid won La Liga.
“He wants to become the best player in the world again. He’s still got people doubting him - maybe there’s a jealousy element to it - and he wants to prove them people wrong. That’s how you become the best.”