Neuer, who was playing at Schalke then, has since moved to Bayern Munich, where he has won both the UEFA Champions League and the World Cup.
Ferguson says he decided to bring in De Gea from Atletico Madrid, because of the advice of his goalkeeping coach back then and has never regretted the decision.
“Eric Steele had been scouting David de Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke. And I think Schalke would’ve been happy if we’d have gone and taken him,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.
“So my problem was Eric, because he was adamant that we must take De Gea. I said ‘but Eric, the boy Neuer is the complete unit; he’s mature, his physique is unbelievable’, and he says ‘yeah, but in three years’ time, De Gea will be better’.
“I said ‘that’s a statement’.”
Ferguson travelled to watch the Spain stopper once and was convinced enough to buy him.
“Eric and I went out to watch him (De Gea) against Valencia away, and the things he’d been speaking about – his agility, his confidence, his speed – were evident,” he recalled.
“And Eric had been building a relationship with his parents, and was so adamant, that I had to trust him – and I’m glad I did, because he was right.”