Cavani could join cult hero club with new shirt

Friday 03 September 2021 17:12

Edinson Cavani made quite the impression at Manchester United in his first season at Old Trafford, the Uruguayan becoming a fan favourite with his dominant performances, brilliant headers, unstoppable movement and bow-and-arrow celebration.

That cult hero status was cemented in the second half of last season when he defended Mason Greenwood against AS Roma, dragged United to victory away at Tottenham Hotspur and scored from 40 yards in the first game back with fans.

Those moments meant that despite his absence, United fans serenaded El Matador in our only home game of the season thus far against Leeds United.

The 34-year-old has taken the no. 21 at United, vacating the no. 7 shirt to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to have the iconic shirt he wore in his first spell at Old Trafford.

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It’s a generous act from Cavani, but it also means he follows in the footsteps of United’s other Uruguayan star, Diego Forlan, who wore 21 in his time at the club.

Forlan, too, was a fan favourite, his two goals at Anfield meaning his name is still sung every time United face off against Liverpool.

It might not quite have the history of the seven, but the 21 does seem to be linked to hard-working, down-to-earth players like Cavani and Forlan. Two other notable wearers of the shirt were Rafael da Silva and Ander Herrera, both adored by the United faithful.
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Like Forlan, Herrera and Rafael had notable moments against Liverpool, their passion in games against the Merseyside club being responsible for the adoration in which they were held.

Herrera scored against Liverpool in a 3-1 win at home in 2015, a game more famous for Anthony Martial’s stunning goal off the bench. When the Spaniard left the club to join Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, he wrote a message to the fans in which he said “I can’t forget as well the victories at Anfield.”

“I know they are not trophies but they are trophies [in a different way] for the fans.”

Herrera was tenacious, tackled hard and stood up for teammates when the moment required. His passion for the club came across in the way he played and the way he spoke. He understood what it meant to represent the Reds.

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Rafael certainly did all of that too. Few players better sum up the Sir Alex Ferguson era at United than Rafael, a talented player who played above his ability because of hard work, tenacity and determination.

You got the sense with Rafael that he hated United’s rivals as much as the supporters watching on did, that he never took for granted where he was and who he was playing for. Against Liverpool and City, he did what all fans wish they could do.

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And he still supports the club from afar, regularly tweeting about the Reds and our progress back to trophies and titles.

Cavani’s swagger and attitude has endeared him to United fans, and so have his goals. If he can emulate previous wearers of the No 21 shirt, Forlan, Herrera and Rafael, and help United to beat big rivals away from home, he too will be a member of the cult hero, no. 21 club.