Cavani: Why I rushed to protect Greenwood in Rome

There are many reasons why Edinson Cavani has quickly become a cult hero for Manchester United fans, including his goals and relentless work ethic, yet El Matador’s defining quality is arguably his all-consuming passion for the team and those he shares the pitch with.

During our recent Europa League match against Rome in Italy, there was a stand-out moment for Reds supporters around the world that highlighted why the Uruguayan striker is so revered.

With 71 minutes on the clock and the score tied at 2-2, Mason Greenwood found himself embroiled in a skirmish with Gianluca Mancini and the teenager was quickly outnumbered when Rick Karsdorp joined in. What happened next? Cavani steamed in with a look of menace to protect his young team-mate from trouble, ushering an opponent away (with some force!) before cooling the situation. 

Edinson’s intervention went viral on social media and only added to the appeal of a player who is already incredibly popular with supporters. So when we sat down with the no.7 to discuss his new United contract, signed earlier this week, we had to mention his role of being Mason's minder!

When Cavani rushed to protect GreenwoodVideo

“I’ve always said that I’m someone who works very hard in football,”
Cavani explained, looking back on that second-half incident in Rome.
“I’m out on the pitch and part of a team to work hard for that team and to do my best for every one of the lads who go to make up our team. 

“There are times when you’re out there when I believe you need to protect and stand up for one of your team-mates. Sometimes because it might be down to a lack of experience on their part, and they might make a mistake. Many times, it is because you believe that a situation that they are involved in during a stand-off just isn’t fair. 
“In that incident against Roma, what I felt was that he was arguing face to face with the Roma defender which is something that can happen in football. The next minute, a third guy came on the scene and began pushing him when he clearly wasn’t part of the original argument. I told him he should keep out of the incident and that’s why I went to help Mason and offer him some protection. 

“I also tried to separate the players so the incident would calm down. We were in a key period of the game and he could have been given a red card. I got a yellow card for my trouble, but the main thing was really to protect and defend him and to try to prevent everything escalating further.”
Cavani and Greenwood have formed something of a master and apprentice relationship this season, with our young Academy graduate keen to learn everything he can from the intelligent marksman. Edinson is impressed by the no.11’s attitude and believes the youth product can achieve big things.

“Yes, I’ve spoken on more than one occasion about this,”
El Matador told us.
“I believe that as players, when we reach a certain point in the elite level of the game, as we are today, I think that if you set yourself targets, if you really want something, if you focus on something that you really want to achieve for yourself and for your team, you can achieve it. 

Watch all 17 of Cavani's goals for UnitedVideo

“You can improve, you can grow as a player, you can be even better. It depends on him, as it depends on each one of our forwards. They’re all young strikers who have a long career ahead of them, and it will be down to them how they want to improve and blossom as players.”

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