Real Madrid wanted Antonio Conte to take over as coach of the LaLiga club in the past but the Inter boss claimed the timing was not right.
Conte, 51, made the admission at a media conference on the eve of crunch UEFA 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."