Eric Cantona celebrates after scoring in the 1996 FA Cup final

Which United great provided the no.7 shirt's best moment?

Wednesday 07 October 2020 13:37

Earlier this week, our new Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani was revealed as the latest Red to wear the famous no.7 shirt. And that got us thinking: what are the great moments served up by United stars representing the legendary number?

We asked around our (virtual) office, and the Reds amongst us responded with the goals and games that best sum up the magic of arguably the club's most iconic jersey.

Most were provided by all-time legends, and some by fleeting players who only wore the shirt briefly. But all underline how special that no.7 is...

Ian McLeish, Editor-in-Chief

I wasn’t around to personally witness George Best’s magical evening at Wembley in May 1968, but years of working for the United programme and magazine and repeat viewings of the clips from that legendary European Cup final triumph against Benfica are indelibly etched in my mind. Others to follow in his path – Robbo, Cantona, Beckham, Ronaldo – have undoubtedly helped make that shirt number iconic, but as Bestie wheeled away in triumph having danced around the Benfica goalkeeper Jose Henrique to give United the lead in extra-time, with a single arm aloft and his back to the photographers creating the perfect image, the legend of no.7 was born. When George tragically died in 2005 and United Review paid tribute to him in a forthcoming issue, the shot for the cover chose itself…

Celebrating the genius of George Best Video

Celebrating the genius of George Best

📽 On this day in 1963, George Best began his iconic United career! ❤ Here's why he's one of our greatest players...

Joe Ganley,

In the fallow years between Busby and Ferguson, the no.7 shirt was associated with one man more than any other: our inspirational captain Bryan Robson. And arguably his greatest ever United goal came in the 1985 FA Cup semi-final replay. Though we trailed 1-0 to the then English and European champions, Liverpool, Robbo sorted it – and how. Picking up the ball near the halfway line, he drove through a gap in the Merseysiders' midfield and, when sensing Mark Lawrenson breathing down his neck, he simply lashed home a 20-yard cracker into the top corner. Ronaldo, Cantona and Best might have boasted more pure skill, but no one injected more heroism into the no.7 shirt than Captain Marvel. I'm too young to remember it, but when I think of the divine aura that surrounds that shirt, the sight of Robbo on a one-man rampage is never far from my mind.

Adam Marshall, Contributing Editor,
Rarely have I entered a game more relaxed than the FA Cup final at Wembley in 1996, with another Premier League title recently secured. I was blissfully happy with this and, perhaps as a defence mechanism against the torment of losing to Liverpool, decided lifting the trophy would simply be a huge bonus. It wasn’t the best of games, but that moment in the dying seconds when David James pushed the ball out to Eric Cantona and the King inevitably had the final word on the season, his season, seemed to happen in slow motion. Pure heaven.
Paul Davies, United Review editor

David Beckham’s afternoon at Filbert Street in March 2000 (as the Reds beat Leicester 2-0) is one that will always stick out for me. Becks was already a global superstar, making as many front-page headlines as he did back-page (which was plenty), but rarely was it demonstrated more clearly than on this particular day. Our no.7 was in the headlines even before kick-off, having shaved his hair off for a crew cut that had United fans chanting ‘skinhead’ as the teams took to the pitch. When our star performer produced a trademark curling free-kick, celebrated with arms outstretched, the image was destined to be shown all over the world. True star status.

The best of Bryan Robson Video

The best of Bryan Robson

It's 38 years since Captain Marvel joined United and began his journey to legendary status...

Steve Bartram, Features Editor

I was fortunate enough to be in the Old Trafford press box, working my first home match shift, on the day Cristiano Ronaldo announced himself as a United player against Bolton. Aside from watching on agog like every other United fan in the stadium, as the plucky young buck with the dreadful hair showcased his limitless potential, it was also fascinating to watch on at close quarters as the press pack unanimously began rewriting their pieces during his 30-minute cameo. Anyone who was there will remember witnessing the birth of a star. A JFK moment? A CR7 moment, more like.

Sam Carney,
Greater players have worn the no.7 shirt for United, but it could be argued that few have ever conjured a moment of euphoria quite as sharp as Michael Owen did on that derby day in September 2009. A winning goal, against the ascendant ‘noisy neighbours’, in front of the Stretford End, with basically no time at all left on the clock? It’s a wonder Old Trafford didn’t take off!

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