Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he made a 'mistake' when failing to sign Didier Drogba as a youngster.
The Frenchman confesses keeping tabs on the Chelsea star when he burst onto the scene at Le Mans, where the striker began his career in 1998.
Drogba went on to join Guingamp in 2002 before an impressive season at Marseille led Premier League rivals Chelsea to pay a fee in the region of £24million for his services.
And as Wenger plots a way to stop the in-form Blues hitman in Saturday evening's FA Cup semi-final, the Gunners boss acknowledges he should have taken a gamble.
"When he was in Le Mans we watched him carefully," said Wenger. "We felt he might not be completely ready. His value was £100,000!
"Don't forget all the French clubs watched him. Nobody took him. He went from Le Mans to Guingamp.
"We knew him at Le Mans. It is a mistake, but when you are in football everyone can understand. We had Thierry Henry.
"When you watch a striker in the Championship in a scrappy game you can say: 'yes, he has something'.
"But at the time Drogba was not ready. Nothing put us off, but suddenly he was at Guingamp. He wanted to stay in France and went on to join Marseille, the club of his dreams - I think it still is.
"We didn't miss him because we didn't want him at the time. We said we would follow his progress.
"Then suddenly Guingamp and then Marseille bought him. We never ruled him out. But when he was at Marseille, Chelsea came in."