London: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp revealed on Sunday that he failed in a bid to sign England defender Rio Ferdinand from Manchester United before the start of the season.
Redknapp gave Ferdinand his professional debut when the pair were together at West Ham and he made a cheeky bid to bring the centre-back to White Hart Lane as he looked to add leadership to his squad ahead of Tottenham's first Champions League campaign.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson refused to consider the deal however and Ferdinand remains one of his team's key performers, as he showed with an imperious display in the Champions League win over Chelsea last week.
"I can't ever see us getting Rio now. I was interested. Last year, I tried. I tried at the start of the season," Redknapp told The Observer.
"When he was on the teamsheet against Chelsea in the Champions League, I thought Man United had got a much, much better chance of getting a result and it proved that way."
Although Redknapp missed out on Ferdinand, he believes it is essential for Tottenham to sign that calibre of player if they are to challenge for a place in the Champions League on a regular basis.
Redknapp, whose side lost their Champions League quarter-final first leg 4-0 at Real Madrid, added: "I've said many times to the chairman (Daniel Levy), it's not always about the best players, it's about getting characters in your football club.
"Chelsea have had it over the years, whether it's John Terry or Frank Lampard, and Man United have had it with Ryan Giggs, Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
"William Gallas has come in and given us experience but in the long term I still feel that you need to find another one or two if you're going to keep progressing, that type of real character, who has opinions and that will to win around the dressing room - a few leaders.
"You can't have too many at your club. That's why I tried to take Phil Neville from Everton in January."
Redknapp is already planning for next season and he is keen for Levy to give him substantial backing in the transfer market.
"You've got to add to the squad," he added. "The chairman knows ... if we can't move on, then you have to accept trying to get into the Europa League every year and trying to finish sixth or seventh.
"But if you want to try to make the Champions League, you have to keep improving."