World of Sport

Valencia’s number is up after being haunted by United legends

World of Sport

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Manchester United's number seven shirt is the stuff of legend.

It has adorned the backs of George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, players who were - and indeed continue to be - idolised at Old Trafford.

But one of the current crop of stars has voluntarily given up the chance of joining that hallowed quintet.

Antonio Valencia had a brilliant season for United while wearing No.25 in 2011-12. Named the club's player of the year, Sir Alex Ferguson rewarded the Ecuadorian by handing him the number coveted above all others at the club.

(We'll ignore the fact that Michael Owen wore it - occasionally - for three years following Ronaldo's exit.)

It proved a bad omen for Valencia: injuries and poor form rendered the winger largely redundant last season, despite United's success in reclaiming the title they had lost to neighbours City.

So on Sunday, ahead of the Community Shield against Wigan at Wembley, we learnt that he had binned the number.

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Valencia, who incidentally joined United from their opponents for £16 million in 2009, took to the field in his previous 'shirt' - and helped them cruise to a 2-0 win.

One player who will be unhappy/not care (delete as appropriate) at Valencia's decision is youngster Nick Powell, who has had to vacate the No.25.

The decision to relinquish the seven could prompt further speculation that Ronaldo - or CR7, to give him his full title - is poised to return to the club from Real Madrid this summer.

Or not.

On a side note, the No.9 shirt last worn by Dimitar Berbatov remains unoccupied.

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