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When we talk about the United’s greatest number 7 what goes through your head or mind? David Beckham, George Best, Eric Cantona, or Cristiano Ronaldo right? Absolutely yes, because those names are without a doubt the finest players ever to don the number 7 at Old Trafford.
Number 7 being an iconic jersey from a historical standpoint is often reserved for trickery, skillful, intelligent, and nimble players who are either wingers or midfielders who are very dangerous with the ball on their feet.
While the above is a fact about the number 7 for almost every topside in football, many iconic names have worn the prestigious Manchester United jersey with pride and left their mark both on the beautiful game and lore of the team.
So here on Naijnaira, we’ve dug deep into the archives to uncover the greatest Manchester United number 7 who left their imprint on the game.
9. Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria came to Manchester United with a lot of pedigree having won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid in a season where he’s probably one of the best wingers in the world.
The Argentine was truly excellent during his first weeks at Old Trafford, particularly with his fabulous chipped goal against Leicester City to announce himself to the fans.
Unfortunately, things went south for him after he had begun life at Old Trafford on a good note in terms of his form and performance, which led to him falling down the pecking order under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal after struggling for consistency.
8. Billy Meredith
Meredith was a Welsh professional footballer who was considered one of the early superstars of the game due to his intelligence, pace, and consistent performance notably for City and United.
He won each domestic title in the English football league and amassed 48 caps and 11 goals for Wales. Billy also won the British Home Championship titles while actively playing as an outside right winger.
The Welsh was also a dedicated professional who was well respected and recognized for his skills on the ball in terms of dribbling, passing, crossing, scoring and particularly chewing a toothpick.
7. Steve Coppell
Though Coppell’s most recognizable characteristic may be his inconsistency as one of Manchester United’s number 7, however, he was described by Tommy Docherty as “One of the best players he’s had the privilege of working with as a manager, because he gave him peace of mind without any worry about him having a bad game”.
As an out-and-out winger, Coppell was a fan favorite and justifiably so, he scored 70 goals in 396 appearances for United before his career was ended by injury in 1983.
He was also a regular for England earning 42 caps and playing in the 1982 World Cup as one of Three Lion’s best leg going into the Mundial, despite not possessing an outgoing persona.
6. Antonio Valencia
When Valencia joined United from Wigan Athletic in 2009 lot of questions were been asked if the Ecuadorian will live up to expectations, and surprisingly he did and went on to win United’s Player of the Year Award in the 2011-12 season.
Following his impressive performance that season he was handed the iconic number 7 shirt, but the pressure and mystiques of wearing the shirt weighed him down and he struggled to replicate the same form of 2011-12 scoring one goal in 30 league appearances.
He vacated the shirt in 2013 and found a new leave of life after reverting back to his old number 25 which was initially given to him when he came to United.
5. Bryan Robson
Robson was a box-to-box midfielder who scored, tackled and absolutely bossed games with aplomb. He was a magnificent captain whose effort was well appreciated at United throughout his career at the club.
He was referred to by Sir Alex Ferguson as the best captain that he had during his time as manager of United, and with such a statement, it’s easy to say he was one of United’s best players to donned the iconic number 7 shirt.
As a top player who played for United Robson knew exactly what it meant to wear the shirt he adjudged to be a lucky number for him throughout his twelve years stay at Old Trafford.
4. George Best
Talk of a player who was truly loved, revered, and honored by United’s fans, George Best remains that player whose name is still sung on the Old Trafford terraces because of his sheer brilliance and impact at the club.
He was so good that a statue of him was built outside the ground, with arms around Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton who also left a magnificent mark on the beautiful game at Old Trafford.
It will be absolutely disrespectful not to name Best among the all-time United’s number 7 great, who left a great mark on the lore of the club and football generally.
3. David Beckham
From a historical standpoint and how mystical United’s number 7 was since the days of Robson, Cantona, and Best, it can be said that nobody has quite transcended the shirt like the England poster-boy until Ronaldo’s era though.
Beckham was destined for greatness having come through the youth ranks and graduated into the starting eleven to play alongside the iconic class of 1992.
With top players in that team who could have worn the shirt, it was obvious something was special about him and the number seven that he eventually wore.
His sublime set-pieces throughout his career made him one of the most famous and revered number 7 in world football.
2. Eric Cantona
Next up on the lineage of United’s number seven is Cantona who was a team player but not a stranger to personal glory and adulation when on the pitch.
The Frenchman was a renowned swagger player who’s his confidence robbed off his teammates to always give their best when faced with opposition either in front of the Old Trafford fans or elsewhere.
Cantona won titles, scored, and assisted a lot of goals at Manchester United throughout his stay at the club, reasons he’s being regarded as one of the Red Devil’s finest players ever to donned the iconic shirt.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
When Sir Alex Ferguson told Ronaldo, “You’re going to take the number seven”, it was evident the Portuguese was going to be one of the club’s greats to don the shirt.
Before Ronaldo, United’s fans only chant the names of Beckham, Cantona, Robson, and Best, but along the line there came a certain Portuguese teenager who wow the whole of Old Trafford with his magnificent talent following his move from Sporting Lisbon.
Ronaldo wore the shirt while he was still developing into the player he was to become even though his first year wasn’t as sublime as other years. He won the Ballon d’Or in 2008 on the back of United’s stunning Champions League and Premier League triumph wearing the iconic number 7 shirt.
He even scored goals that seemed inexplicable and was incredibly phenomenal everywhere he went, wearing the number 7 on his back for Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and now with Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia.
This article was updated 3 months ago