What do Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson, George Best, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo all have in common?
No, it’s not their ability to play amazing football, it’s the fact they have all donned Manchester United’s most famous shirt number.
You’d have thought it would have been retired by now, but alas, following on from the summer departure of Michael Owen – the last player to wear the number – it has now been handed to Antonio Valencia.
He would hardly have believed such an honour was possible just a few years ago during his days at Wigan Athletic. He doesn’t possess Eric Cantona’s bravado, Bests’ brilliance, Beckham’s Golden Touch or Ronaldo’s mind boggling footwork.
But he is not at all fazed by the history behind the number. He explained to The Telegraph.
“There is no extra pressure. The club asked me if I would like to wear the No 7 shirt and I said I would be delighted. I am excited to wear it and want to enjoy it, but really I just want to continue improving my own game.”
With the arrival of Kagawa in midfield, competition is pretty fierce at Old Trafford, with Ashley Young and Nani competing for a place on the wing with the Ecuadorian, who still, after 6 years living in England, cannot speak a word of English. The fact that he has been handed the famous number though is perhaps indicative of Sir Alex Ferguson’s faith in the player. Speaking of the language barrier, he said:
”It is a little difficult but I can communicate with my team-mates. And I can also understand when the manager shouts.”
If Man United fail to reclaim their title this season, he may well hear his managers shouts more than he would have liked.