John Hartson admitted he regrets not playing for his beloved Swansea City before he retired.
Hartson started his career at Luton as a trainee
The former Wales striker, 32, admitted: "Going to Swansea would have meant more than joining Manchester United."
Hartson almost joined the Swans 18 months ago when Kenny Jackett wanted him to partner Lee Trundle up front.
"It didn't happen as I was then in the West Brom first team," said Hartson. "I tried to join last summer but nothing materialised, which was a shame."
Lifelong Swans fan Hartson quit football this week, two weeks after leaving West Bromwich Albion, citing a lack of desire.
The Swansea-born targetman graced a UEFA Cup Winners Cup final with Arsenal and starred in big European nights with Celtic.
He also broke transfer records of both West Ham and Wimbledon in his often controversial 15-year career.
But Hartson, who tried to engineer a dream switch to The Liberty Stadium last summer, concedes never playing for his home-town club is "gutting."
"I was very close to joining Swansea 18 months as Kenny Jackett wanted me to partner Lee Trundle up front," he said.
"I had a meeting with the new manager Roberto Martinez and a club director last summer and I told them my desire to play for the club.
"It would have been a great last challenge for me as I was then lingering in the reserves at West Brom.
"My mates are fitness fanatics and they would have got me fit for my final fling, I'd have made sure of that.
"Unfortunately that is not going to happen and following my meeting with Roberto last summer, signing for Swansea was never close.
"I get on well with Roberto and I have a lot of respect for him, he has done a brilliant job for us."
League One Oldham Athletic and League Two Chester City have both offered Hartson a footballing lifeline following his departure from Championship high-fliers West Brom.
But Hartson, who won 51 caps for Wales, admits he has lost his "fire" and would rather cheer on runaway League One leaders Swansea to the Championship with his two children.
"I have very been fortunate to play in Europe for big clubs like Arsenal and Celtic," said Hartson.
"And have proudly represented my country.
"So the idea of going down the leagues had never appealed to me.
"I could have joined a club next week if I wanted but my fire to train every day has gone.
"Once you can't offer that then I don't see the point in continuing.
"Someone my size was never going to play until I was 38.
"But my back, knees and ankles feel quite good, I just don't have the enthusiasm to continue.
"The only club that would have given me that fire is Swansea.
My two children had a big influence in my decision to retire
"I would not have wanted my mates booing me off, making a clown of myself playing for the Swans."
Hartson left Scottish giants Celtic for West Brom in the summer of 2006 to be nearer his two children, Beca Lia and Joni, who had moved back to Swansea wife his ex-partner Lowri.
He made just 16 starts for West Brom but insisted: "It wasn't a mistake leaving Celtic.
"I wanted to be near my kids as they're very important to me.
"I did 90,000 miles in the car last year back and fore to Swansea from the Midlands when I was meant to be resting and preparing for games.
"I wanted to pick the kids up from school, take them swimming and do things that normal dads did.
"My children had a big influence in my decision to retire and I can enjoy lots of time with them now.
"Retirement was not a difficult decision because every footballer has to face it at some time.
"I'm not finishing football bitter and twisted and as John Toshack once told me, 'John, your life starts once you finish playing'."