GARETH SOUTHGATE and Robert Page both went for the Sheffield United job in 2013 – but lost out to David Weir!
The England and Wales managers will be rivals on the biggest stage at the World Cup this month.
But it's been a remarkable turnaround by the pair of League One rejects to the pinnacle of management.
Page has gone from managing Port Vale, Northampton and Wales' U21s to replacing Ryan Giggs and leading his country to a first World Cup appearance since 1958.
Weir is the technical director of Brighton while Page and Southgate will meet in the ‘Battle of Britain’ on November 29 in Doha.
Page said: "It sounds like Gareth went for the same job so within ten years we are both taking our countries to the World Cup. It's incredible.
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“They were in League One then.
“I got through to the second interview process, flew out to meet the chairman but I got told two days later David got the job.
"But I'm pleased I've done the hard yards. I've been lucky to take these players to a Euros and that was incredible. Now to be associated with a World Cup is still surreal.
"Standing there singing the anthem knowing how much it means to people is going to be a really proud moment."
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Page names his 26-man squad in his hometown of Tylorstown tonight and takes Wales to only their second World Cup – and a fourth major tournament – in their history.
The Dragons have reached the knockout stages each time; the quarter-finals in Sweden 64 years ago when Pele’s Brazil sent Jimmy Murphy’s heroes home, the Euro 2016 semi-finals and the Euros last-16 hammering by Denmark last year.
Page’s ultimate target is to emulate Murphy and reach the last eight.
First up is the USA on November 21 followed by Iran and England.
Wales' success of qualifying for three of the last four tournaments have seen a shift in mentality with midfielder Joe Morrell adamant the Three Lions are 'beatable' in Qatar.
Page added: "Our mindset has changed. One million per cent. Long gone are the days when we lose 7-1 in Holland.
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"We went to Rotterdam in June, got back to 2-2 in the 93rd minute but we were naive to concede from the kick-off and lose the game. On another day we draw.
"We don't fear anybody. We respect every team but we're happy to go toe-to-toe with anyone. Teams have seen a change in us.
“We have waited ages to qualify so we aren't going there to make the numbers up.
"Any team is beatable. Irrespective of form, Wales and England is a local derby.
“Gareth’s done a great job and could pick three teams of top quality players so they’ll be expected to go to a World Cup and win games.
"We haven't got a pool of players like England. We're a country of three million people so the environment is our foundation. It’s key for us."
Passionate Welshman Page has family roots in the Rhondda valley where he got mobbed recently on an ‘incredible’ visit home but he’s also got strong connections in England.
The ex-Sheffield United and Watford defender, 48, lives in Sheffield, where we met for this interview, and has many English supporting friends.
But he knows there will be no split loyalties for the final Group B match.
Page said: "I’ve received nice messages from English friends.
“A lot of them say, 'Wales have an incredible never-say-die attitude’. They have started watching us on the television but I wouldn't say I've converted them.
“There will be an extra edge because of where I live. But when push comes to shove and the referee blows his whistle they will want England to win."
Page started his career at Vicarage Road under the influence of ex-Three Lions manager Graham Taylor.
Page said: “I learnt from Graham the right times to have the players on the grass and when to take them off.
"He had four different caps. He was a manager, coach, psychologist and sports scientist.
“His knowledge was brilliant. My regret is I didn't pay enough attention to him. I’d switch off, thinking, 'Oh my god, he's been speaking for an hour'.
“I wish I could go back and listen to everything he said. He was first class.
"We might get beat on a Saturday and he’d come in on the Monday and say, 'I need five volunteers to drive.
"We'd follow him in cars for half an hour and end up in a lay-by. You’d then walk for an hour through the woods and arrive at a country pub.
“We’d have lunch together and feel refreshed that we hadn’t got the boots on.
"Tuesday’s training would be brilliant because we were ready to go again. I've taken that into management. It’s important to get the balance of work and play right.
"We did it in Baku at the Euros. One of our recovery sessions was a pool and beach bar. There was no alcohol served but keeper Adam Davies is a DJ so we had him on the decks.
"We got the work we needed to get into the players but we had a bit of fun too."
Humble Page showed his grounded side minutes after beating Ukraine in June to qualify for the World Cup courtesy of Gareth Bale’s free-kick.
In his hour of glory, Page paid tribute to the late Gary Speed, the former Wales manager who was a close friend, team-mate and architect to today’s success.
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Page added: “After the final whistle over Ukraine I dedicated the win to Speedo. I speak about him a lot. When he was Sheffield United manager, he lived nearby. I'd meet him every week for a beer and catch up.
“Without what he did 11 years ago we wouldn't be here. The same for Chris Coleman and Ryan. Every manager before me deserves praise.
“I've just been the lucky one to get us across the line.”
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