A jersey of football players holds an iconic and value for the player. The no 10 jersey always remind of Pele and Maradona both wearing this shirt and is important key member in the team winning the world cup. AC Milan has retired the number 6 that worn by France Baresi and no 3 that worn by Paolo Maldini and will only be given to the son of the both of this player.
Today we will look at Manchester United iconic no 7 jersey that is worn by the great player all the time. This jersey number carry a significant responsibility to perform for Manchester United where they need to be good technically , have a great fighting spirit, never give up and always carry the team on their shoulder, and scoring an important or making an important contribution for the team.
The tradition of this no 7 started by a player from Belfast and his name is George Best. The winger whom is 2 footed, can play in left and right side was found by the Manchester United scout Bob Bishop in Belfast and contacted Sir Matt Busby and said that “he had found a genius”. He signed with Manchester United and form the United Trinity with Sir Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law . Winning the League title in 1965 the first title after the Munich disaster, Best come to fame when he did not follow the tactical instruction of Sir Matt Busby to defend against Benfica that had won the European Cup twice by beating Barcelona and Real Madrid and take the game to Benfica and the end result Benfica beaten 5 – 1 in Portugal. The result that send shockwave in Europe at that time and George Best performance dubbed by the Portugal press as “O Quinto Beatle ” or “The Fifth Beatle” with the reference to the famous band group The Beetles at that time. Best finally won the European Cup at 1968 final in Wembley and scoring 1 goal to make score line 4-1 and making Manchester United to be first English team to win the European Cup. En route to the final they knocked out the great Real Madrid team in the semifinal with 3 -3 draw in Bernabeu and George Best had scored 1 goal that was claimed to the best goal that he had scored. A sweet victory for Sir Matt Busby and Sir Bobby Charlton after the Munich disaster that destroy the whole team. Later George Best was destroyed by alcohol, girl and he did went bankrupt after retiring from football. Best had passed away due to alcoholism in 25 November 2005. He had started the no 7 jersey legacy. The United Trinity legacy had been shrines in form statue in the Old Trafford.
After George Best creating a legacy with no 7 jersey in 80’s come Bryan Robson nicknamed “Robbo ” and Captain Marvel that wear the number 7 shirt . A box to box attacking midfielder he is also a tenacious and never give up type of midfielder and due to this he always get injured in the crucial time hence Manchester United unable to won a league title in 80’s and also with Liverpool dominating domestically and in Europe it was a daunting task at that time. When he is fit he is an absolutely driving force for the team at that time. This is typical when he helped the team to overcome Maradona’s Barcelona in Old Trafford 3-0 and overcome the first leg defeat of 2-0 in Nou Camp in 1984 Cup Winners Cup quarter final but as usual he was injured again in the semifinal against Juventus and Manchester United miss his driving force and was knocked out by Juventus. He is the longest serving captain of Manchester United. He is also will put the team ahead of personal glory as shown in 1983 FA Cup final against Brighton he was on hat trick and on to become the first player after 30 years to score hat trick in FA Cup final but instead allow regular penalty taker Arnold Muhren to score. With the FA Cup win on that year he had become second English player to lift the trophy. He had added another FA Cup win 1985 by defeating Everton hence stopping from winning the treble as Everton had won the League Title and Cup Winners Cup on that year. After Sir Alex Ferguson had replaced Ron Atkinson Robbo still in favor with the manager and had added the Cup Winners Cup medal in 1991 by beating Barcelona hence become the first English Team and first team from British Isle to lift an European trophy after the 5 years ban on the English team due to Heysel tragedy in 1985. Robbo had won the Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1992-1993 seasons after 26 years since they had last won the title in 1967. This is also the year of inaugural English Premier League that previously had been called as Division One.
The next wearer of the no 7 is the catalyst of the Manchester United dominance in 1990’s Eric Cantona. When Cantona at the Leeds United and helped them to win the title in 1991-1992 season to increase the squad strength Leeds chairman Bill Fothery had contacted Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) to check whether Dennis Irwin is for sales or not. Both parties agreed that Dennis Irwin is not for sale and Sir Alex Ferguson had asked about Cantona and after discussion with Howard Wilkinson the Leeds United manager the deal had been completed. Cantona had arrived in half season where United in 10th place and only lost twice and clinch the title in 1992-1993 seasons and their dominance started from here. Cantona was given the number 7 shirt in the following season and helped United retain the league title and won the FA Cup by beating Chelsea 4-0 in the final completing a domestic double. In the season 1994-1995 Cantona was banned for kungfu kick at the Crystal Palace supporter and was banned for 8 months. He was sorely missed as United had crumbled and lost the title to Blackburn Rovers. When had had returned United team with the blend of experienced and youth player from the class of 92 won the Premier League title and overhaul Newscastle United 13 points led and also won the FA Cup by beating Liverpool in final. Cantona had scored with a brilliant volley that led commenter Peter Barkley passionately screams Cantonaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Manchester United becomes the first team to win the double twice. Cantona had become the first player outside from British Isle to lift the FA Cup as he captained the side. Cantona had helped United to retain the title in 1996-1997 season but unable to retain the FA Cup as they had been knocked out by Wimbledon in fourth round replay. Eric Cantona also unable to add a European silverware as United was knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in the semifinal. Cantona had retired at the age of 30 and this had become his final season. His technical ability, swagger and arrogance was remembered until now by the Manchester United fan and he was awarded the Overseas Player of the Decade in 2003. His goal celebration against Sunderland in 1996 where he beat 3 players and chipped the goalkeeper and celebrated it with looking around the Old Trafford that “look how great I am” is an iconic moment.
One of the Fergie Fleding youth team that become a celebrities is next wearer of the shirt. He is David Beckham coming from the class of 92 with Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs he had become a household name after the goal against Wimbledon. He was given the no 7 shirt after the retirement of Eric Cantona in the 1996-1997 seasons but he did not won any silverware on the 1997-1998 seasons as Cantona was missed and with Roy Keane long suspension Manchester United had failed to retain the title and lost to Arsenal. In 1998 in the World Cup second round against Argentine Beckham was red carded after retaliated to Diego Simeone tackle and was mercilessly and viciously booed in all the stadium in England except Old Trafford as he was blamed for the England failure in World Cup. David Beckham had taken all the abuse on the chin and has performed at his peak in 1998-99 seasons and helped Manchester United to win the treble and become the first English team to win the treble of Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champion League. They also had become the first English team to win the Intercontinental Cup after beating Palmeiras from Brazil 1-0.Playing in the right wing and excellent crosser of the ball and superb free kick taker; he was instrumental for the team goal scoring with crossing from the right hand side. He had moved to Real Madrid in 2003 after fallout with his mentor SAF and scored his last goal against Everton in his trademark free kick. His crossing ability was sorely missed by Ruud Van Nistelrooy as his goal scoring record had dropped significantly upon Beckham departure. David Beckham is less skillful than Cantona and George Best but he had pin point crossing , abiliy to curve goal in free kick and in long shot , superb wing play with Gary Neville in the right hand side and great fighting spirit. His iconic moment was the goal against Barcelona in 1998-1999 group stage with a free kick , long range against Deportivo La Corune in 2002 quarter final, proving the corner for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer to score the winning goal in dying minute in 1999 final and may more. He was given a standing ovation when he returned to the club in 2010 for second round clash against Manchester United when he is playing for AC Milan.
After David Beckham departure, Manchester United had arranged a friendly game against Sporting Lisbon as preseason game. A young boy had terrorized Gary Neville in the right hand side and led the Manchester United player urge to sign this young boy. Making his debut against Bolton Wanderers in 2003 and made a mockery of the Bolton Wanderers with terrific dribbling skills. The boy is non-other than Christiano Ronaldo who wear the number 7 shirt on the first season itself. He was first dismissed as show man but in 5 years he had become the completer finisher and attacker. Christiano Ronaldo is able to score from header, 2 footed, long range and also free kicks. He is also a complete attacker where he can left, right and center. The player had that George Best had said that is compliment for him when he was compared with Christiano Ronaldo and Johan Cyruf had said that Ronaldo is better than George Best and Dennis Law.He had scored 42 goal in 2007-2008 to help Manchester United to win UEFA Champion League for 3rd time and also helped to win the Premier League for 3 consecutive year stating 2007, 2008 and 2009. The 2009 is a history making as they had equaled Liverpool record of 18 titles . He also had helped United to reach final again in 2009 to become the first team after AC Milan to win the Champion League twice in a row but was beaten by Barcelona. He also had become the first Manchester United player to win World Player of Year Award in 2008. His long range short against FC Porto in 2009 quarter final, free kick against Portsmouth in 2008 Premier League that left the goalkeeper David James stranded, the powerful header against AS Roman in 2008 Quarter final , free kick against Arsenal in 2009 semifinal , and many more had contributed to the team winning the important games. He refused to celebrate the goal that he had scored when Manchester United meet Real Madrid in 2003 second round due to the respect for the club.
All this players is tenacious, has an excellent skill, willing to fight for the club and was exceptional. The player that wears the number 7 shirt after Christiano Ronaldo is Michael Owen, Antonios Valencia and currently Memphis Depay all failed to live up this. Currently Memphis Depay in his first season and for the look of thing he maybe the next player to live up to the iconic no 7 shirt performance.
The no 7 will always be remembered by fans as all this player had contributed to Manchester United way of play entertain and at the sometime winning the trophies.