Antonio Valencia has spoken of his pride at wearing the no.7 shirt at Manchester United. In an interview with Nike to promote the Manchester United Collection leisurewear range, the Ecuadorian winger describes what it is like to follow in some famous footsteps...
How aware were you of the significance of the no.7 shirt when Sir Alex Ferguson allocated it to you at the beginning of the season?
Yes, it means a lot. When I arrived at United I was already aware of exactly what the no.7 shirt stood for here, because we all know that many legendary players have passed through the club and worn that shirt, players who were almost larger than life. So I was pretty clued up about it and it’s a shirt that’s really made a huge impact at this club.
What makes it so special?
You can almost say it’s different to the other shirts worn by the other players. It’s a shirt that needs to be worn by a player who is maybe that little bit different, individuals if you like. That’s how I see it anyway. I’d say it has to be someone special who wears that shirt because it is a little different.
Does it have to belong to a player with a particular style or character?
I think so, definitely. You can see that pretty much in all of the players who have worn the shirt have gone on to become legends at this club. I’m just hoping I can do something similar!
What is it that unites the great no.7s?
You could say it’s the winning mentality, the mentality of a champion, always wanting to win and having that hunger for trophies. Take David Beckham, he wore that shirt for what, eight to 10 seasons and won five or six titles in that time. That’s something you look at and see why the shirt means so much at this club.
Then you have the individuality of someone like Eric Cantona…
Yes, Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Beckham, they really were all one-off players and it’s the word individual that most accurately describes them. They’ve certainly made that shirt even more iconic here.