Never Gunnar be another Solskjaer at Manchester United
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ever needs to be reminded of football's delicate balance between dreams and nightmares, he only needs to look at the fax he keeps as a momento.
On it are two signatures. The first is from then Manchester United chief executive Martin Edwards, the second from Sir Alan Sugar, then Tottenham chairman.
All it needed was a third and a transfer would have been concluded that changed the course of history.
Solskjaer was on his way to add his name when he passed Sir Alex Ferguson's office.
“Everything was agreed. The two clubs had signed and were just waiting for me. It was that close,” recalled the Norwegian.
“The gaffer called me into his office and closed the door. He said the conversation was just going to be between the two of us.
“He told me I would be a big part of his squad and he didn't want me to go.
“If he had said all the best in your career, I would have gone. But he wanted me to stay and so I signed.
“Hopefully I paid back the £5.5million that had been agreed with Spurs. But it is strange now to look at that fax.”
Solskjaer need have no worry about the money. Twelve months later he was stamping himself as a true United legend with his injury-time European Cup final winner against Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp, the pinnacle of a staggering season of success, the like of which may not be seen for some considerable time.
And the most remarkable aspect is that when the 37-year-old returns home with his wife and three young children in January to begin the first stages of a management career at Molde, he will do so as modestly as when he arrived, from the same club, as a virtual unknown for the best £1.5million Ferguson has ever spent.
“It is surreal for people to think of me as a legend at this club,” he said.
“I find it very strange because I look up to all the famous names.
“When I meet Eric (Cantona) I am still starstruck, even though I played with him.
“I know I have been part of a great club. Hopefully I will be invited for a game here and there.”
Solskjaer can be assured the welcome mat will always be rolled out for him, possibly even pointing towards the manager's door one day.
“I am not ashamed of saying that if I enjoy management and that invitation came in 15 years time I would say yes,” he said. “Everyone who has played for Manchester United dreams about it. More than anything, the last few years have shown me you need experience and you need to be the best to be the manager of Manchester United.”
Solskjaer is not afraid to express his feelings because he knows Ferguson understands.
The bond between the pair remains strong.
United's present reserve team manager admits he would not have taken up the challenge of Molde had the Scot not given his approval.
“To have had one manager in all my time here is extraordinary,” he said. “All clubs talk about needing continuity and then six months later they have signed a new manager. Six months after that they have another.
“That is one of the things I spoke to Molde about. You cannot expect success at the snap of your fingers. It might be three, four or five years before the team I am building is good enough to challenge Rosenberg, who haven't lost a game this season.
“But I know the owner. He was there when I played for Molde.
“He was so keen to let me join United, he booked a private jet, which cost him £70,000, just to fly me over.
“Now, on a lesser scale, I want to bring United back to Norway.”