But Derby County manager Rowett, who was in charge at Birmingham from 2014 to 2016, said his side evaluated Lindelof before being put off by the player's physical shortcomings.
"We had a few phone calls about him when I was manager of Birmingham City about three years ago," Rowett told Sky Sports about Lindelof, who at that time was still waiting to make a proper breakthrough at Benfica.
“An agent called us and said Benfica were trying to get some of the younger players out to expose them to different levels.
“We had a look at him. It’s ironic actually. I put it to the staff and some of them felt he wasn’t quite tough enough.
“Then suddenly he’s being touted around at £20-30 million so I think we made a mistake!
“He got straight back into the Benfica team very quickly and, of course, went from strength to strength.”
"We had a look at him but the staff felt that he wasn't strong enough."
Lindelof made his third appearance in all competitions for United in the Carabao Cup third-round tie against Burton Albion on Wednesday.