Antonio Valencia.

Valencia happy to be a trendsetter

Sunday 15 May 2022 07:00

Antonio Valencia accepts he was one of an early group of wingers who converted to full-backs, with the role changing over the years, as he looks forward to pounding up and down the Old Trafford pitch again next weekend.

The former Reds skipper has accepted the chance to represent his old club in the upcoming Legends of the North game against Liverpool on 21 May.

It means a lot of running is on the cards for the Ecuadorian, particularly if he operates in the role he made his own during the latter part of his career with Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

Gary Neville is also a strong contender for the right-back slot after he signed up for the cause, as the game raises valuable funds for Manchester United Foundation.

Bryan Robson and his assistant Andy Cole will be charged with the responsibility of picking the XI but Valencia appreciates his switch in position did set something of a trend, with Ashley Young ending up doing likewise on the opposite flank.

"It is a very complicated role," he admitted to club media. "You need to be very fit, run up and down the pitch and always be focused as you are in a defending role.

"It is true that a lot of players are doing that same transition and I am happy to have been one of the first."

So the burning question is whether the South American will be capable of providing his trademark energy, at the age of 36, after announcing his retirement from professional football a year ago.

"It's been three years that I'm not in Manchester and I am looking forward to seeing all the fans," he admitted.

"I'm in shape. I have an academy over here and I'm playing a lot. 

"I hope I don't get tired soon and to run all over the pitch again!"

Tickets are still available for the Legends of the North game on Saturday 21 May.