Juan Sebastian Veron pictured against Southampton.

How Juan Seba Veron was born into the beautiful game

Tuesday 16 October 2018 05:00

Maybe Juan Sebastian Veron was always destined to become a name famous to football fans throughout the world.

The midfield maverick was the Premier League’s record buy when signing for Manchester United in 2001, a bona-fide Serie A superstar who had sparkled with Lazio and helped them win the Scudetto a year earlier.

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.
Juan Sebastian Veron poses in the United kit.

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.

Seba entered this world on 9 March 1975, when his father was knocking in the goals for Estudiantes. His son’s entrance clashed with a big date for the club – a local derby with Gimnasia and this is where Carlos Bilardo comes into the picture.

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.”
Seba celebrates winning the Premier League with United in 2003.
Veron would occasionally travel to England to watch his son perform for United and there were memorable highs – a goal in the incredible comeback at Tottenham Hotspur and virtuoso displays against Derby County, and Everton, among them. Nobody would ever doubt the Argentinian’s class.

”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.”
La Brujita - 'The Little Witch' is still respected by United fans.
Veron is still deeply involved in the game, working tirelessly as Estudiantes president – a job that prevented him from making his planned journey with his father and some of the 1968 squad to the North West of England. 

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!”
Juan Ramon Veron (left) with Eduardo Flores at Old Trafford.