Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Glenn Hoddle has revealed just how close he came to rejoining Southampton 18 months ago.
Ahead of what could be a hot reception on his return to St Mary's this weekend to kick off Wolves' season, Hoddle said he actually agreed a deal with Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe.
But, just when he looked set to defy the wishes of the Saints fans by returning to the club to replace Gordon Strachan in February 2004, Hoddle was scared off by a split St Mary's boardroom.
"I was a gnat's whatsit from going back," said Hoddle, now clearly more than happy he waited a further ten months for the vacancy at Wolves to come up. "Rupert Lowe and I sat down and we did a contract and everything.
"It was there to be done. And I'd have loved to have gone back as I had a great working relationship with Rupert.
"Most of the supporters at the time didn't want me to go back. But that didn't worry me too much as no manager is going to keep every fan happy. When I knew the board was split, though, that was another matter. I said to Rupert, 'It's not fair to me and it's not fair to the club'.
"The one thing you need to have is the board behind you. If they're not behind you at a club it won't work."
Hoddle, who originally took over from Dave Jones at Southampton, upset
many on the South Coast when he walked out in March 2001.
He was initially replaced by one of his backroom staff, Stuart Gray, now his No 2 at Wolves, before Strachan took over only seven months later. But, when Strachan resigned in February 2004, Hoddle was tempted to risk running the gauntlet of terrace opposition to return.
"Now seeing what's happened to them," he added with a smile, "the fans say to me when I see them 'You should have come back'.
"But it's behind me now, Harry Redknapp's a great manager who will do a great job for them and they'll be one of the teams there or thereabouts this season without a doubt."
Meanwhile, Southampton's local rivals Portsmouth are the latest side to show serious interest in Wolves striker Henri Camara. But they will have to match the Senegal international's seemingly excessive wage demands.
Camara's proposed move to Wigan broke down on Tuesday when, it is alleged, he demanded not only a £30,000 per week salary but a £1million signing-in fee.
But, in the wake of Wigan having been prepared to match Wolves' asking price in advance of £3million, Pompey chairman Milan Mandaric has revealed that he will not be scared off by that sort of fee.
"Our concentration was on other players as we felt he was going to go to Wigan," Mandaric said.
"But we will have to revisit the situation again."
Camara scored four goals in ten Premiership appearances for Southampton after completing his second loan move of the season.
But, having also previously gone down with French club Sedan as well as Wolves, that could not stop him suffering a third successive relegation.