More than a decade after the dramatic stunt like a Hollywood movie, Federico Macheda continues to find his way back to top football.
Heroes come and go, only historical moments remain. These days 11 years ago, Manchester United fans had witnessed the flash of a teenage boy who saved their pet team from the disaster of watching the enemy lift the trophy.
On April 5, 2009, Macheda was rewarded with a place by Sir Alex Ferguson in the MU squad to welcome Aston Villa. The 17-year-old was only signed his first professional contract with the club at the beginning of the season. He is still a permanent staff of the U18 team, occasionally playing a few matches for the reserve team.
After scoring a hat-trick for the reserve team MU on Monday, Macheda was signed up for the Premier League by Ferguson for the first time at the weekend.
Aston Villa causes countless difficulties for the home team, and despite the efforts of Cristiano Ronaldo (scored twice in this match), there were times when MU fans thought they would not win against the visitors. That would be a disaster for “Red Devils.”
In the early match, Liverpool overcame Fulham and temporarily took the lead with 2 points more. An MU fan said that if Liverpool had had their first championship in nearly 20 years, it would have been a tragedy.
Half an hour of the game passed, Aston Villa was leading the home team 2-1. In the 61st minute, Ferguson’s gamble was considered to be the riskiest game of the season, when Macheda was substituted for Nani. The young 17-year-old had an MU debut, in the situation the home team was forced to win.
In the 80th minute, Ronaldo scored a 2-2 equalizer for MU. Old Trafford fans held their breath. MU only more than 10 minutes to save the situation. 90 + 1, Macheda received the ball before the penalty area, he tried to turn around but then lost, the ball to the feet of Ryan Giggs and the Welsh player made a back slot for Macheda.
In the penalty area, the 17-year-old performed a back-heel kick with his right foot and then turned around at world-class, eliminating the center-back before cutting the ball into Brad Friedel. The score is 3-2 for United.
A fairy tale has appeared at Old Trafford. Two weeks after the unforgettable goal against Aston Villa, Macheda continued to score for MU against Sunderland in the Premier League.
In a season where Liverpool of Rafael Benitez showed an impressive performance, MU only won the Premier League that year with 4 points more than “The Kop”. The Manchester City club officially rivaled the Liverpool championship’s 18-time record. And it can be said that Macheda‘s goal against Aston Villa was one of the important bends of the season.
The rebellious gem
Coach Alex Ferguson had reason to bet on Macheda during the critical moments of that year. The Scottish strategist discovered Macheda‘s talent when he was 15 years old.
Lazio couldn’t sign a professional contract with a teenage player at the time, so Ferguson decided to go ahead. He invited his parents to come to England, offering generous financial support to help the Macheda family overcome difficulties.
Having a dream-like start in the United shirt, Macheda was flooded with acclaim. The Guardian even called Macheda‘s extra-time strike as one of the most impressive goals in English football history, comparable to legends like Steve Bruce or Mark Hughes.
“At that time I was extremely confident,” Macheda told the Bleacher Report. “Everything is crazy. At the age of 17, I no longer cared about many things around me. Things I did were more than a dream.”
The magical moments at MU in 2009 were over, and Macheda returned to the harsh reality. He will have to compete with Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez, Danny Welbeck or Michael Owen in the attack.
However, the early reputation seemed to have hurt Macheda. Instead of training hard, he relaxed too much after that initial success. He was haughty and glad about playing for the first team, playing with those famous players. Maybe he should have a different attitude. The injuries that Macheda suffered made things worse for him.
During the winter transfer in 2011, Ferguson pushed Macheda to Sampdoria on loan, as he had wanted. However, things are not as expected. Sampdoria lost in the fight against relegation Serie A and Macheda realized how wrong the decision to return to Italy.
Macheda told ESPN that the stress on returning home was the wrongest selection of his life. Ferguson initially differed when he wanted to go to Sampdoria and said he needs to play in England, in which he can keep an eye on Macheda.
The wrong choice that year nearly ruined Macheda‘s career. The Sampdoria players had purposed he was like a big player, however, he really wasn’t. Most people forget him when he was 19. Of course, while you came from Manchester United, they see you as a star, he recalls.
After Sampdoria, he continued to wander to Queens Park Rangers, Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers, Birmingham City and Cardiff City. In May 2014, after being liquidated by MU, Macheda was recruited by coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thanks to the time they worked with the youth team. However, Cardiff’s poor performance forced Solsa to leave, and Macheda was later liquidated.
Find the sky again
In late 2016, Macheda joined Novara Calcio, the club playing in Serie B and was given the number 10 shirt. In Novara, Macheda learned how to develop a professional career. He met Nicolo Ferrari, a sports consultant. They helped him hire a team of nutritionists, psychologists and tactical analysts.
Macheda said the way he had started everything was amazing. He trained like crazy on the pitch, in the gym and on the harsh diets. The past failures compel him to become stronger again.
An impressive performance after 18 months in the macaroni team helped him get Panathinaikos’s eye. The Greek team is no longer in the same position as before, but the league here is still competitive. At 28, things are not over with Macheda.
Macheda didn’t regret going to MU in the past. MU was a beautiful experience, and I have left a mark in the history of the club. The injuries have taken away so many opportunities, it’s not easy to cope with the pressure from many behind the goal to that life.
This season he played 23 times for Panathinaikos, a once-powerful force of Greek football in the league (Super League). The striker born in 1991 scored 12 goals and had 1 assist. He is ranked 2nd in the list of top scorers in the Greek league, less than striker El-Arabi of Olympiacos (scored 17 goals).
On the land of the gods, what Macheda did was no different from a rebirth. “I learn a lot from mistakes. I always advise young players to listen to family and friends who really love them. It is never easy to deal with the pressure always have to focus on the football field, and ignore what the media says, “said the Italian forward.
Macheda is happy with life in Greece. He was given the number 9 shirt by Panathinaikos, happy life with his wife Martina and a 3-year-old son named Lorenzo.
When asked about United, Macheda stated: “Ever since I left England, I have never been back. Manchester has always been a special city for me. Of course, I always want to go back to Old Trafford, but only with soccer shoes in his legs” It was a confident statement and hoped Macheda could fulfill that ambition.
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