Massimo Taibi still rues the lack of faith he feels Sir Alex Ferguson showed in him during the Italian goalkeeper’s short spell at Manchester United.
The season after the English side won a historic League, Cup and European Cup treble, Taibi was brought in from Serie A side Venezia. After just four appearances, though, the then 29-year-old was sent back to Italy and to Reggina on loan, never to play for the Manchester side again.
“It was an important, if short, spell for me at Manchester United,” the now-retired shot-stopper told Goal.com.
“I learned so much, to live football in the most authentic manner, differently from how one lives in Italy, but I was put on the bench after I’d played only four games.
“Two of those were excellent but also two were negative.”
Taibi conceded 11 goals in those four games, including two in a man of the match debut against Liverpool at Anfield, five against Chelsea, and a notable howler against Southampton at Old Trafford.
“Ferguson didn’t believe in me enough and gave me no time to prove my worth. I needed a period of acclimatisation, and instead there I was given none.
“I arrived in the August and was immediately picked to play, even though I didn’t know the language or my teammates well.
“The Premier League is unique, totally different from other European leagues. The biggest regret was that I didn’t prepare with the rest of the team and I wasn’t able to play in the Champions League.
“Certainly things could have been different. Certainly the Premier League is a more beautiful League, Serie A is less talked about now.
“But in Italy people live better than how you live in England, there is a superior quality of life - you feel homesick for your country - at least this is how it was for me.”
Where Manchester United looked to Taibi to replace Peter Schmeichel, they are now looking to David de Gea to replace Edwin Van der Sar, and Taibi sees the similarities.
“In a sense I see a little of myself in De Gea, who initially had problems, but now he is being shown more confidence - something which I was not granted. As a result, he is now starting to prove his worth.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.