Qatar or Wigan? Pep Guardiola Almost Signed For League One Club 13 Years Ago

Pep Guardiola will step out at the DW Stadium in Wigan on Monday night (February 19), 13 years on from when he almost joined the club as a player.

Guardiola's Manchester City take on League One's Wigan Athletic in the fifth round of the FA Cup, which saw the Premier League leaders' coach make a surprise revelation.

Guardiola recalled this week how, aged 34, he came close to signing for Wigan as he sought a move to the Premier League after 11 years in the Barcelona first team and two in Italy.

"Yeah, it was years ago," said Guardiola, as quoted by The Daily Telegraph. "But I was not good enough! That is the truth, yeah.

"I was old, really old, as a football player to come here. I tried to come here to play in English football but I was not able. The same happened when I came here to Manchester City, with Stuart Pearce. They were so clever!

"They were so clever because I was not good enough. Wigan were interested in me, I didn't choose the club. It didn't happen and that's all."

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola at Doha, Qatar, December 30, 2004. Guardiola ended up playing in Qatar instead of Wigan. KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty

Guardiola, now 47, ended up moving to Al Ahli in Qatar for two years before spending a season with Dorados in Mexico. Then Wigan manager Paul Jewell remembered the events differently.

"I got a call from Guardiola's agent and he gave me Pep's number so I rang him and left a message," said Jewell. "Quite remarkably, five minutes later he rang me back. He knew all about Wigan, all about our players—I was really impressed.

"We had a terrific conversation and he told me he would like to come and play in the Premier League. His wages weren't extortionate and he was all set to come when his agent called me a couple of days later saying Pep had received a mind-blowing offer from Qatar. So it was Qatar or Wigan."

Guardiola's team will host Southampton in the FA Cup quarterfinals should they beat Wigan on Monday, keeping City's hopes of a quadruple alive. They lead the Premier League by 16 points while facing Arsenal in the League Cup final on Sunday (February 26).

On Tuesday, City beat FC Basel 4-0 in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 in Switzerland to take a giant stride toward the quarterfinals. The second leg takes place on March 7.