The number seven shirt has an extremely unique aura at Old Trafford, considering the number of United greats of yesteryear who donned it over the last half a century – a list in which, by the way, Michael Owen does not feature – but Antonio Valencia admitted he’s relieved to have abandoned the iconic shirt after just 12 months.
The Ecuadorian wore the number seven last season and while United lifted the Premier League title, the Ecuadorian was a shadow of the player he was in the 2011-12 season when, wearing the shirt number 25, he terrorised defences up and down the country and secured the club’s Player of the Year award.
However, once Michael Owen left the club and allowed Valencia to don the number seven shirt, the Ecuadorian’s form suffered a horrendous dip, with Valencia enjoying arguably his worst season at the club since arriving from Wigan in 2009.
While attributing a footballer’s poor form to a shirt number is as daft as it sounds, Valencia admitted that some superstition affected him, particularly as many fans and pundits thought he wasn’t fit to continue the glorious tradition of holders of the number seven shirt.
“It was more to do with the fact that 25 was the number I had when I first came to the club and I played well wearing that,” said Valencia.
“So I thought ‘why don’t I go back to 25?’ I had good times and good fortune in that shirt.”
“There is no negative reason as to why I changed. I don’t want people to think I wasn’t doing my job for the team because of any added pressure of wearing the No.7 shirt. I suppose I set the bar high in 2012, and then I had a niggling problem with my back, which didn’t allow me to train properly.
“There is no sign of that now. I feel great, and have been able to train to my maximum and put in 100 per cent. That has been paying dividends in games, and I feel my fortune has changed going back to the 25 shirt.”
While Valencia’s return to form is obviously extremely pleasing, one has to wonder if we’ll ever find a suitable fit for United’s most prestigious shirt.
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Tags: Manchester United News