Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he was deterred from making a bid to bring Paolo Maldini to Manchester United by the AC Milan legend's father.
Maldini established himself as one of football's greatest ever defenders during 25 years as part of the Milan first team and made over 900 appearances for the club.
He also retired from international football as Italy's most capped player after maintaining a consistently high standard through his career.
Ferguson was once keen to offer Maldini the chance to play in the Premier League, but has revealed he was given short shrift when he raised the possibility with his father Cesare.
"I once asked Maldini's father Cesare about him," Ferguson told Corriere Dello Sport during a trip to Rome.
"He looked at me as if I was a madman and that response was enough to understand that the answer would be no.
"I also loved Gianfranco Zola a lot. He always played with a smile and with the right sporting spirit."
During the interview, Ferguson was also asked about Francesco Totti, the long-serving Roma talisman who has endured a difficult period.
The United boss added: "Totti is the symbol of Roma, he'd never want to leave the club just like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at United.
"Totti needs to be kept at a certain level for Roma, just as I do at United. I may not let Giggs play every week but he's always there. It could be the same for Totti."