Celtic supremo Dermot Desmond has revealed he tried to hire Sir Alex Ferguson as the Hoops' manager back in 1997.

The Irish businessman was a fan of Fergie during his spell at Manchester United and, even in the early days, could see the Scotsman's talents as a boss. Offering twice the salary he was currently on at Old Trafford, Desmond hoped to convince him to join up at Celtic Park.

But Ferguson's ambitions to win the Champions League with the Red Devils was too great to swap Manchester for Glasgow - even if he did seriously consider it.

“I had asked Alex Ferguson to be manager of Celtic around 1997 and I offered to pay the money myself, twice the salary he was on at Manchester United," Desmond told The Athletic. "He said he would like to consider it, even though he had a Rangers background.

"He said, ‘I’d like to do it, to follow in the footsteps of Jock Stein,’ but he said his overriding ambition was to win the Champions League with Manchester United. In fact, my good friend JP McManus and I were his guests at the (1999) final in Barcelona, where he fulfilled his dream."

Ferguson did have a hand in the hiring of Martin O'Neill three years later, however, as Desmond explains. "In 2000, I went back and asked him if he was to pick his replacement at that time who would it be," he added. "He said there were three people: Dave O’Leary, Alan Curbishley and Martin O’Neill. I said the one I’m interested in is Martin O’Neill.

“I had previously asked a prominent broadcaster if Martin (then managing Leicester in the Premier League) would be interested in the job and I got a response in the negative. I then asked Alex if he would speak with Martin, to see if he would meet with me, and the response was that he would be very interested in meeting.

"So I met Martin for dinner and we got on very well. I introduced him to Pat [Sheehy] and Brian [Quinn] and they also felt he was a remarkable individual, so we hired Martin.”