Rangers attempted to sign John Hartson after the former Celtic hero had left Parkhead, according to the Welsh striker.
The Hoops favourite was all set to join the Ibrox club on the same day as Dutch star Ronald De Boer back in 2000 but an issue flagged up in his medical prevented the deal from going ahead.
Martin O'Neill ended up taking the striker to Glasgow's East End a year later in a £6m move from Coventry City, where he went on to score more than 100 goals in six-year spell, lifting six trophies and reaching the Uefa Cup final.
His Celtic tenure ended when he returned to England for a short stint at West Bromwich Albion before retiring in 2008, but Hartson explained his post-Parkhead career could have taken a very different turn had former Rangers chief David Murray got his way.
The Welshman revealed a phone conversation took place between him and the one-time Ibrox supremo, but he steadfastly refused to join his former side's greatest rivals.
He told Go Radio : “It was a reporter that mentioned his name to me, he said expect a call from Mr Murray, he’s sought your number out.
“[Murray] said ‘Look I’d like to bring you back up to Rangers. We know we made a mistake, we should’ve signed you'.
“I said look with all due respect thank you very much but there was no way, it was never happening. The conversation was a bit of a waste of time really.
“His actual words were, ‘I’m going to stick you in the safe house for the first old firm game,' but that's no way to live, it's not the way I want to live anyway.
“I said, 'look, one: I would have never been fully accepted by the Rangers fans and secondly just thrown all my 110 goals for Celtic down the river'.”