Maybe Juan Sebastian Veron was always destined to become a name famous to football fans throughout the world.
Everybody was excited by the Argentinian’s arrival and he retains a special affection among the club’s support, even though he was unable to consistently show his best form when attempting to adapt to the league, and was sold to Chelsea a couple of years later.
The feeling is clearly mutual, as a very special visitor to Old Trafford recently confirmed to ManUtd.com.
Juan Ramon Veron - Seba's father - appeared at the Theatre of Dreams in September and it was also much more tranquil than his own famous outing on the pitch some 50 years ago, in 1968, when the South American side Estudiantes beat Matt Busby’s team to win the Intercontinental Cup.
We were there to share the moment with Veron Snr, La Bruja (‘The Witch’), in addition to some of his former Estudiantes colleagues and United great Paddy Crerand. And he revealed a special story about the birth of a man who, like Paddy, would go on to grace United’s no.4 shirt.
Bilardo would go on to coach Argentina’s World Cup winning-team in 1986 and decided to take matters into his hands by keeping things secret.
“The story is 100 per cent true,”Juan Ramon told us.
“The night before the derby, a phone call was received saying Sebastian had arrived. Bilardo was not playing but he took the call. He just didn’t pass on the message, which would have allowed me to leave. No, he didn’t tell me. I scored and it was my last game of that spell for the club.”
It soon became clear the schoolboy Veron would share his father’s passion for the game – and his talent.
“He stayed in the camp, at training, with us and he was a little mascot,”recalled Juan Ramon.
“As a father, I always wanted Sebastian to be fulfilled, with his own choices. But I realised that he had the touch and Mr [Eduardo] Flores was one of his early coaches in the beginning and he could see he was a different footballer. Something special.”
”It’s always nice to remember those days,” said Juan Ramon.
“Sebastian also says, to this day, that Manchester was really important for him. Everyone was very kind to him here – when he was a player and every time he has since come back, by himself or with the family. He also told us, when he came a few months ago for Soccer Aid, the charity match, that it just feels like home. Certainly, every time I visited to see Juan playing, everybody from United’s side was very welcoming.”
His own teenage son, Deian, is currently making his way in the club's Reserves, continuing the family tradition. We will all remember Seba's legacy as an elegant midfield playmaker but the last word belongs to his father.
”There was no pressure on him,” said Veron Senior.
“Because we played in different positions. So there wasn’t competition between father and son. I was a striker.”He laughs.
“And I was better!”