Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has admitted he rejected the chance to manage Manchester United because he was about to take the head coach role at Real Madrid.
Ahead of the Wednesday's Carabao Cup quarter-final against the Red Devils at Goodison Park, the Toffees manager revealed he was offered the job at Old Trafford by Sir Alex Ferguson prior to the Scottish legend's retirement.
But Ancelotti was on the verge of accepting the lead role with Los Blancos and was forced to decline the offer, with no other chance to join the Red Devils eventuating since.
“You want to know from me [about coaching at Man Utd]?!“ Ancelotti said.
"I can say that I still keep a fantastic relationship with Sir Alex, and we met when he decided to stop (retire).
"But I was close to Real Madrid, and so I appreciate the fact that at that time he talked to me. And that’s it, no other opportunity [to manage United]."
Everton are flying high in the Premier League so far with this season, with the Merseyside club sitting in fourth position after 14 matches played.
The Toffees have met Man Utd once this season - in the league in November - with Ancelott's team going 1-0 ahead in the opening stages before the Red Devils struck back twice through Bruno Fernandes to eventually win 3-1.
Ancelotti explained the regard he holds for the Red Devils institution, indicating he placed them alongside some of the biggest clubs in world football.
"Yes of course Manchester United is a fantastic club, a fantastic team I battled against them a lot of times when Sir Alex was there, when I was at Chelsea," he said.
"I have a lot of respect for this team, for this club, it is a historical club in the world of football like Milan, like Real Madrid, a lot of respect."
Everton face a busy Christmas-New Year period of fixtures that starts with a clash on the road against strugglers Sheffield United on Boxing Day.
The Toffees will then return to Goodison Park for matches against Manchester City and West Ham on either side of the turn of the year.