In the summer of 2008, Sir Alex Ferguson had let it be known that he wanted Manchester United to sign Dimitar Berbatov. We had just won consecutive league titles and the Champions League and the manager was looking to further strengthen his strikeforce, which already included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.

Manchester City, whose new owners had just moved in, also wanted him and outbid United. Daniel Levy was playing hard ball and didn’t accept the United offer, but he did allow Berbatov to fly to Manchester to talk to City. The problem for City is that Berba only had eyes for United.

Speaking to The Athletic, the Bulgarian has spoken about how the move came to be.

Can I swear? It was a true story because I can be really direct when I want to be, and as I said before, I follow my own path and along the way of course there will be people who are disappointed in my decision, like the Spurs fans were when I decided to go and follow my dream.

But then getting close to that dream we get that call from City giving their proposition to my agent. He was looking at me and asked what I thought. I said, “Just fuck off, we’re going to United.” In my dreams, this is the badge, the shirt, the manager, the players, the history.

I come from a small country and this is an important opportunity for me, I need to grab it with both hands and not let it go because it’s not going to happen again with me, it’s just one direction all the way. 

When Berbatov landed at Manchester Airport, Ferguson was already there waiting for him, which Spurs reported the club over for making an “illegal approach” for their player. They gave it up in the end, selling Berbatov for a few million quid less than City had offered.

He did wait for me at the airport, which I was surprised to see, and I was shocked because as I said, it can be intimidating and especially for me, stepping out the plane and — bam! You see Sir Alex. 

I was like, “What do I say? How do I look? Do I sound stupid?” You ask yourself all these questions, but he was great, he drove us to Carrington, and in the car you can imagine how it was like a movie. I was just sitting there thinking, “What do I say?”

But this was a perfect day for me. Exhausting, nervous, but in the end it finished so well for me because this was my personal top.