Argentina hero Roa explains why he snubbed transfer to Ferguson’s Man Utd

Former Argentina goalkeeper Carlos Roa has spoken about how he rejected the chance to join Manchester United – because he thought the end of the world was nigh.

Roa was the man who knocked ­England out of the 1998 World Cup with saves from Paul Ince and David Batty when a dramatic night in St Etienne was decided by a ­penalty shoot-out.

He was then earmarked as Peter Schmeichel’s replacement by Sir Alex Ferguson after United won the Treble the following year.

But Roa, a devout Seventh-day Adventist, retired from ­football ­because he believed in a prediction that the world was about to end.

He told his Spanish club ­Mallorca he was hanging up his boots to ­follow his faith – just as his career was about to peak, aged 30.

And although he returned to La Liga action just six months later, he was unable to recapture the form that had almost taken him to ­Manchester.

More than 20 years on, Roa ­admits he has some regrets.

He said: “At that time I was very attached to religion and bible study. It was a difficult decision to make but at the same time thoughtful – and my family agreed with me.

“Certain things happened that will never be known because they are personal and I could only speak to the most intimate people.

“Many things were said back then out of ignorance and I was branded a thousand bad things.

“The people of the club thought that I was going to go back and that they would recover a lot of money with that transfer that was about to happen.

“Today, I still think that on a ­spiritual level it was a very good decision. But in sporting terms it wasn’t – because I left football at the best moment of my career.

“I could have progressed a lot, with great contracts and the ­possibility of playing in England.

“People will never understand it. Back then they drove me crazy, they called me from all sides, and as much as I tried to explain my decision it was very difficult for them to understand.”

Roa’s decision to snub United caused Ferguson one of his biggest headaches. He spent a fortune on trying to replace Schmeichel.

But Raimond van der Gouw, Mark Bosnich, Massimo Taibi, ­Riccardo, Andy Goram, Roy Carroll, Tim Howard and Fabien Barthez failed to fill the big Dane’s gloves.

And it wasn’t until Edwin van der Sar arrived at Old Trafford in 2005 that Sir Alex found another consistently world-class keeper.


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