Macheda: It’s a moment not easy to describe

Tuesday 15 February 2022 12:12

Former Manchester United striker Federico Macheda is the guest star of the latest UTD Podcast episode.

The Italian left the Reds in 2014 and after stints with Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest and Novara in recent years, Macheda’s footballing path has led him to Greek club Panathinaikos, for whom he has made over a century of appearances since joining in 2018. 

The 30-year-old, who is currently out of action at the moment due to an ankle problem, recently took some time out of his routine to join our club podcast co-hosts David May and Helen Evans via video link.

The chat with ‘Kiko’, as our Academy graduate is nicknamed, was released on Monday and is now available for you to listen to in full via the Manchester United App, and through all other podcast providers from 17:00 GMT today (Tuesday 15 February).

Kiko Macheda - "Inside my dream debut"


The scorer of one of the most iconic Premier League goals in Manchester United history, Federico Macheda, joined the UTD Podcast from Greece, where he is currently playing for Panathinaikos. Kiko talked us through the doubts he had moving to Old Trafford at such a young age but how the staff and players at United made him feel welcome. He revealed the moment where Sir Alex Ferguson approached him in the Carrington gym to say he had a chance of playing against Aston Villa that weekend. And of course we heard about that goal: the last-minute winner against Aston Villa on his Manchester United debut.

Many topics are covered within the wide-ranging chat, including Federico’s current life in Greece, how he found the move to England when he joined United as a teenager in 2008, and of course there’s plenty of insight around his famous debut against Aston Villa a year later, including how the opportunity to be in the squad that day came about.

“I was on a bike one morning in the gym and we had a game in the night with the Reserves. All of a sudden, Sir Alex [Ferguson] came there, and I was doing bike and watching the news on the television. Sir Alex never really came to the gym, so it was surprising,” Kiko explains.

“He was looking for me apparently, which was very strange because we’d barely talked before. I was with my Italian friend [Davide] Petrucci who used to be there. 

“He came to me and said, ‘How are you?’ and I said, ‘I’m very good, thank you’ and then he went straight [and said]: ‘If you do well tonight, [on] Sunday you have a chance to be on the bench.’ Me, I didn’t know what to answer him, I was shocked!
“I said ‘Okay’ and then he left. I asked my friend if he understood it well, but he was shocked also. This was the main reason I changed country and changed this club: to get this chance. 

“This night we played at St James' Park against Newcastle, and I scored a hat-trick, so I just gave him what he wanted to see! It was Wednesday, [then on] Thursday I had a cool down and Friday I was training with the first team for the first time. Then Sunday, we had the game against Villa.”
UTD Podcast: Reserves to the Premier League Video

UTD Podcast: Reserves to the Premier League

Macheda reveals how he went from scoring a hat-trick for the Academy to training and playing with the first team…

Our former forward goes into further detail on that first training session, the night before at the hotel and everything else he remembers about preparing for his dream debut before recalling the game itself, in which he would come on as a substitute to net the decisive goal in a crucial 3-2 United win over the Villans, back in April 2009.

“I thought I would go there and be on the bench and go inside [onto the pitch] in the worst case. I remember [Dimitar] Berbatov was injured, Wazza [Wayne Rooney] was suspended and [Carlos] Tevez had come back from international duty the day before the game. [Danny] Welbeck was on the bench with me. 

“The game started good with [Cristiano] Ronaldo scoring the goal and then, all of a sudden, we are 2-1 down. Then, Sir Alex turned to me. I thought I was the last choice because Welbeck was in the first team before me. I was shocked, it was 30 minutes [to play]. 
UTD Podcast: My special United debut Video

UTD Podcast: My special United debut

In his UTD Podcast, Federico reminisced on his dramatic winner against Villa in his first United outing...

“I was tired, I played 30 minutes and I was exhausted. The pressure, the joy of being there, made me exhausted.

“One thing is to step inside the pitch and make your debut, another thing is to go inside the pitch and score the winning goal in this way. The moment was crazy.”

Macheda would go on to score four more times across a further 35 United appearances before he made Cardiff his new home in 2014. Despite it being seven-and-a-half years since then and nearly 13 since that iconic goal against Villa, Kiko has no problem in recalling the incredible moment. 

“Of course, I remember this last run,” Macheda says, when asked by Maysie to talk through his memory of that debut strike. 

“We were 2-2, we had to win the game. I took the ball from Gary Neville in the middle of the area and tried to do something, but my legs were gone. I had no power. So, I lose the ball and it goes out to [Ryan] Giggs.

“Giggsy, the magician, the pass wasn’t even easy to make but he played a vertical ball to me, I made this first touch with my back heel and then I say: ‘Okay, this is the chance.’ 
The backheel turn, the scenes, the commentary. Everything about this goal is epic...

“When I put the ball on my right foot, I slide into the ball shooting and when I raise my head up, the ball was inside [the net] and I see the amazing atmosphere, people celebrating, and I couldn’t believe it. 

“It’s a moment that is not easy to describe, to be honest.”

You can listen to the full Federico Macheda episode of the UTD Podcast now in the Official Manchester United App.

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