Inter head coach Antonio Conte claimed he has previously turned down offers to manage Real Madrid.
Conte, 51, made the admission at a media conference on the eve of crunch Champions League clash between the clubs.
Zinedine Zidane is in his second spell in charge of Madrid having returned in March 2019 after Julen Lopetegui was sacked and an interim stint by Santiago Solari.
"Of course, there have been a couple of moments in the past when I was very close to coaching Real Madrid," Conte said on Monday.
"The season had already started, it would have been difficult to take over, the club had already made a schedule and in a very sincere way I preferred to postpone it
"In the past, it's true, there was the opportunity to become the Real Madrid coach, but perhaps it wasn’t the right time."
Asked if he could envisage himself as Madrid coach in the future, former Juventus, Italy and Chelsea boss Conte insisted he was happy at Inter for the time being.
He added: "I want to continue the project here at Inter. Right now, I am really very focused on Inter.
"I started a project here with a very strong ownership and I am happy. We are creating something important."
Conte counted Zidane as a team-mate during his playing days with Juventus, but was never sure if the Frenchman would move into coaching.
"Honestly, it's difficult to answer. As a footballer I've always thought about a future as a manager, I don't know if Zizou did the same," explained the Inter boss.
"As a player he was incredible and it was a pleasure for me to be alongside him, but surely we are talking about an exceptional person, a boy who was always the first in training, despite the quality and talent he had."
Romelu Lukaku has been ruled out of the match because of a thigh injury.
The Belgium striker felt a problem after Inter's goalless draw with Shakhtar Donetsk a week ago and sat out their 2-2 draw against Parma in Serie A at the weekend.
The 27-year-old, who has scored nine goals in all competitions for Inter this season, was not in the squad that travelled to the Spanish capital.
Alexis Sanchez was included Inter's party for the fixture at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium following his recovery from a thigh problem of his own but will be assessed.
The Nerazzurri are third in Group B after back-to-back draws with Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar in their opening two games but Conte refused to build up the showdown with Madrid.
"It's not a final. Let's say it's a very important elimination group match," Conte added.
"Both teams want to go forward. We will face a team equipped to win everything, it will be a tough match."