With Man City drawn against Wigan Atheltic in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, manager Pep Guardiola has been reminiscing about the time he came perilously close to joining the Latics at the tail end of his playing career.
After leaving Brescia in 2005, Guardiola went on trial at Wigan who had just won promotion into the Premier League and were being managed by Paul Jewell at the time.
However, it wasn’t to be, with the Spaniard, who was 34 at the time, admitting that he fluffed his audition by virtue of simply not being up to scratch (quotes via ESPN FC):
I wasn’t good enough. That is the truth. 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.
They were interested in me. I didn’t choose the club. It didn’t happen and that’s all.
Lo, it wasn’t to be, but Jewell has previously shed a little more light on the conversation, revealing that Pep may well have been snaffled up had he not received a much more lucrative offer from elsewhere:
I got a call from Guardiola’s agent and he gave me Pep’s number so I rang him and left a message.
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.
Sounds like there may not have been a trial at all, but either way…
Guardiola signed for Al-Alhi in August of 2005 joining such contemporary luminaries as Claudio Canniggia, Fernando Hierro and Gabriel Batistuta over in the Qatari league.
Guardiola remained in the Gulf until January of 2006 when he moved to Mexico to see out his career with a swansong six-month stint at Dorados de Sinaloa, who had only been in existence for two years at that point.
Oddly, Pep offered his services to Man City before joining Dorados, but was snubbed as City couldn’t afford to match his wages demands.
How times change, eh?