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Juan Sebastian Veron

Veron's delight at Old Trafford return

Juan Sebastian Veron is set to make his first appearance at Old Trafford since leaving Manchester United, when he returns to the Theatre of Dreams for Sunday’s star-studded Soccer Aid for Unicef charity match.

Veron joined the Reds from Lazio in 2001, for a then club-record fee, and went on to make 82 appearances and score 11 goals. Most notably, he was part of the 2002/03 title-winning side that wrestled the Premier League crown back from Arsenal.

The Argentinian midfielder departed that summer to join Chelsea, but he remains a popular figure among United fans, who often sing one of several songs concocted in his honour at away games.

Now, the man dubbed ‘The Little Witch’ has been coaxed back, to represent the Rest of the World team at the sixth iteration of Soccer Aid. Veron will pit his wits against Sam Allardyce’s England outfit alongside former United stars Jaap Stam and Edwin van der Sar and a host of celebrities, including sprint great Usain Bolt. If that were not enticing enough, United icon Eric Cantona will feature on the Rest of the World bench, as assistant manager to Harry Redknapp.

“Firstly, I’m very excited to be back,”
said Veron.
“This is the first time I’ve been back since I left. I have the best memories of the team, the people, the fans, everything about United… I had two fantastic years in Manchester. It feels so good to be here again.”

South American Reds Video

Our former no.4 scored his first United goal at the venue for Sunday's match during a 4-1 demolition of Everton in September 2001, adding an emphatic finish to a crisp give-and-go with midfield colleague Roy Keane. His man-of-the-match display that Saturday afternoon featured an array of flicks, deft passes and clever movement that had a home crowd already accustomed to the delightful wiles of Giggs, Beckham and Scholes purring in admiration.
“My favourite goal was my first against Everton,”
admits Seba.
“But my favourite game was against Arsenal when we won 2-0 [in December 2002]. They are my two best memories.”
Veron converted a Paul Scholes cutback to net the Reds’ opener in that vital win against the Gunners, helping to reduce the Londoners’ advantage at the top of the table to just three points. United won 15 and lost none of their last 18 matches and sealed the title over Arsene Wenger’s side by five points.
Juan Sebastian Veron celebrates with Premier League trophy.
Veron was a vital influence as United claimed the 2002/03 Premier League.
It was the Argentina international’s final campaign in M16, but he left behind a highlights reel that can still stir the soul of any United fan that lived through that era; memories that will be revived when Veron takes to the hallowed turf once again in Sunday’s match.
The stadium is doubly special to the Veron family, because Juan's father, Juan Ramon Veron, scored the decisive goal for Estuadiantes at Old Trafford in 1968, as the La Plata club claimed the Intercontinental Cup following a 2-1 aggregate victory over United across two hot-tempered legs. 
Sunday’s match is unlikely to prove as fiery, but for the ex-United star, Soccer Aid is something to cherish.
“It’s been fantastic. We are all here for a great cause to help the children and then it’s so nice to meet up with some old pals. The celebrities are good people and they’ve been working hard in training. We have a good team and we are feeling good about the game.”
Soccer Aid for Unicef is all about raising money to ensure more children can grow up healthy, happy and safe, and your support is vital. To donate, please visit the official Soccer Aid website.

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