Manchester United Review
From the time of legendary George Best to the golden boy of modern day football Christiano Ronaldo, number seven has always been a token of inspiration and magical touch in the colors of Manchester United.
Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona all these players have donned the magnificent no.7 and taken united to the top.
Best made his Red Devil’s debut in 1963, at the age of 17. Dubbed, “the fifth Beattle” for his long hair, Best was a hit both on and off the pitch.
He won one league title and one European Cup with Manchester United before leaving in 1974, at the age of 27. In all, Best recorded 466 appearances for Manchester United in all competitions from 1963 to 1974, and scored 178 goals.
Unlike Best, Bryan Robson did not begin his career with Manchester United. In 1981, Robson went to Old Trafford from West Bromwich Albion for a then British record transfer fee of 1.5 million pounds. When asked why he moved to United, he said: “Money wasn’t my main motivation. I simply wanted to be a winner.”
And a winner he was. He was soon made captain of United and won his first trophy in 1984, when he scored two goals against Brighton to help United win the FA Cup. In the 1990-1991 season, he became the first United captain to win the FA Cup three times. He also won the FA Premiership twice.
His stay at United was not to last though. Despite being the longest serving captain for United, he moved to Middlesbrough in 1994.
Perhaps the most controversial player to wear the No. 7 jersey was Eric Cantona. He came to United from Leeds in 1992, after they had finished 17th of 22 in the newly formed Premier League.
He played a major talismanic role in the revival of Manchester United as a footballing powerhouse and he enjoys iconic status at United and in English football. In 2001, he was voted United’s player of the century, and to this day United fans refer to him as “King Eric”.
If Eric was King, David Beckham is the most popular number seven of all. Twice runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year and in 2004 the world’s highest-paid footballer, Beckham was the first British footballer to play 100 Champions League matches. He was Google’s most searched of all sports topics in both 2003 and 2004. With such global recognition he has become an elite advertising brand and a top fashion icon.
During his time in Manchester, United won the Premier League title six times, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. He left Manchester United to sign for Real Madrid in 2003.
Infact, Beckam was ‘sold’ to Real Madrid. But the man who inherited Beckam’s number seven shirt chose to sign up for Real. Christiano Ronaldo, the flamboyant Portuguese was the costliest youngster in British football when he was signed from Sporting Lisbon. Alex Ferguson paid £12.24 million in 2003 for him and in an attempt to defend this sum, he claimed that Christiano is his best buy ever and the most exciting player to watch.
But his words are to become true in a couple of years, when Christiano became not just the best buy of Sir Alex, but the best player in the world, officially. In 2008, Ronaldo won his first UEFA Champions League title, and was named player of the tournament. He was named the FIFPro World Player of the Year and the FIFA World Player of the Year, in addition to becoming Manchester United’s first Ballon d’Or winner in 40 years.
Three-time Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff said in an interview on 2 April 2008, “Ronaldo is better than George Best and Denis Law, who were two brilliant and great players in the history of United.”
Now we have another Ballon d’Or winner in Micheal Owen to own the number seven jersey. Once a great player, now in the twilight of his career, can he eclipse the magic of number seven? Sir Alex feels, he can. But he is yet to impress for United in the league.
It is understandable why some United fans could not digest the fact he was given a number seven shirt since Owen was a former Liverpool player. Number seven has been an ornamental part of Manchester United and has carried great significance. It is unique to Manchester United.
With other clubs it never had any significance. Arsenal and Liverpool have no number seven in their current squad, and Chelsea has Shevchenko, but a player who has lost his existence.