Sunday April 5, 2009. United, two points behind Liverpool but with two games in hand, host Aston Villa as they seek to regain top spot after a topsy-turvy last couple of weeks that has seen them squandering the lead they held on Rafa Benitez’s men.
An injury-depleted United missing six first team players trail 2-1 when, with 30 mins to go, a young Italian makes his debut replacing, as the Guardian put it, “the miserably ineffective Nani”. After Ronaldo equalises ten minutes from time, Federico Macheda itches in name in United’s history with one of the most crucial – and brilliant – goals Old Trafford has seen in the last decade.
Macheda, who a week later scored again away at Sunderland, less than a minute from coming off the bench as United sailed towards their 18th league title, has spoken with the Daily Mail about his regrets for missing out on a Premier League Champions medal.
“You need 10 matches to qualify,”explained the Italian. “So I didn’t get one. But I don’t really care about the medal because I think people will always remember me for that title.”
Macheda’s memories of his debut goal are way sharper than those of who witnessed it (I, for one, lost myself in a jungle of arms and legs and felt extremely dizzy): “Everything just happened, a totally magnificent experience. When I came on the field I wasn’t concentrating on the crowd and the moment. I just told myself that it was my first game and that I was playing with big stars and I had to go on the field and just help them.
“I never thought at all that I would end up winning that game and then the next one. I still can’t believe it sometimes when I look back now.”
Sadly, Macheda’s career has failed to reach the heights of his debut, with a combination of injuries, lack of opportunity and lack of commitment leading to three largely unsuccessful loan spells at Sampdoria, QPR and Stuttgart, but the 21-year-old admitted having no regrets in his interview.
“From 17 to 19 I had a good experience with United. I scored five goals in total, four in the Premier League. It was not easy for a young boy but I am glad it happened.
“I wouldn’t change anything. If I look back there are things I could have done better.
“But I tried my best and I am very proud for everything I did. As long as Manchester remembers me then that’s fine.”
We certainly won’t forget that easily, Kiko.
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