27. FEDERICO MACHEDA
|Birthdate:||22 Aug 1991|
|Joined United:||01 Sep 2007|
|United Debut:||5 April 2009 v Aston Villa (H)|
Federico Macheda became an instant Old Trafford hero when he scored a stunning injury-time winner on his debut against Aston Villa in April 2009.
Aged just 17, the young Italian told MUTV it was “the best day of my life”. But while that goal heralded Macheda’s arrival on the biggest stage, his prowess in front of goal has been apparent ever since he arrived at United in September 2007. Indeed, just six days before his Villa winner, the boy they call “Kiko” netted a hat-trick for the Reserves in a thrilling 3-3 draw at St James’ Park. Formerly a member of Lazio’s youth system, Macheda signed professional forms on 22 August 2008. A powerful forward with a natural eye for goal, he was born in Rome and is regarded in Italy as one of the most promising prospects of his generation. Having relocated to England to further his career, Macheda quickly moved up the ranks at United. He started out in Paul McGuinness’ Under-18s side, before becoming a regular in the Reserves. He began the 2008/09 campaign with a fine goalscoring run in the youth team and quickly translated that to Reserve team football. His strength on the ball, positional sense in the box and clinical finishing didn’t go unnoticed at the very top: Sir Alex Ferguson handed him a Champions League squad number midway through the 2008/09 campaign and then showed stunning judgement to introduce him against Aston Villa just when the Reds needed a goal most. Just six days later, the Italian’s stock grew further as he reprised his match-winner status when it mattered most. Within a minute of entering the fray against Sunderland, with United chasing a winner, Macheda diverted home a vital winner to further aid the Reds’ defence of the Premier League title. Sadly, injuries hampered Kiko’s 2009/10, restricting him to just 10 first-team appearances (five starts, five substitute appearances). One of those was as an impact sub against Chelsea in the league – his introduction changed the game and the Italian even netted a late consolation goal. But it was for the Reserves where Macheda made the biggest mark in 09/10, scoring four goals in eight appearances as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team marched to league and playoff glory. Twelve more first-team appearances – and another stunning strike against Aston Villa – followed at the start of 2010/11, before Macheda returned to his homeland on loan at Sampdoria until the end of the season. Kiko made 14 appearances for the Serie A outfit but was unable to prevent them from being relegated. Macheda began the following season at United and made six appearances before the turn of the year, scoring in the Carling Cup defeat to Crystal Palace. He was then loaned to Queens Park Rangers but only played six times before an ankle injury cut short a frustrating spell in west London. A goal in the Reds’ first pre-season game against AmaZulu FC in South Africa in July 2012 showed Kiko is ready and willing to push for a regular place in the United first team.