Individuality vs History: A Look at Antonio Valencia and Manchester United’s number 7

By Jared Mercer

It’s no secret. The number 7 jersey at Manchester United has been worn by many heroes, many legends.  George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo being the best examples of the past four decades of legendary number sevens, but since Ronaldo’s departure, a natural phenomenon has yet to emerge as the bearer of the legendary shirt.

First there was Michael Owen, former Liverpool player, who spent most of his United career in the dugout or on the injured reserve, and scored a couple of memorable goals but nothing of real note. The highlight of his Red Devils career being a late winner against Manchester City in his first season, which was exciting, but was also about it. He now “plays” for Stoke where it is likely Owen’s career will fade into an end. The current man in red uniform to wear the number 7 shirt is Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia, who began his United career in 2009/10 wearing the number 25 jersey. While supported by the Old Trafford faithful, Valencia and the history of the old Man Utd 7 have not mixed.

Valencia is a true number 7 in the sense that he is a pure right winger who rarely leaves his role of hugging the side touchline. He was successful at doing so in his three seasons at Wigan Athletic. Scoring 7 goals in his three years at Wigan, he was not overly impressive but showed good signs of being a consistent Premiership performer. When Alex Ferguson snapped him up for £16 million, it seemed like a heavy price for a player of reasonable quality who had not made too much of an impact in England.

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The U20 World Cup’s South American Contingent

By Gordon Fleetwood

Ten years after FIFA’s premier youth competition was held on South American soil, the U20 World Cup returns to the continent as the best twenty-four teams in the world converge on Colombia. The tournament provides a stage for some of the brightest young talents in world football to show their skills and compete for a chance at glory. Many of these stars form a part of the South American delegation. After an exciting South American Youth Championships earlier this year, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Uruguay gained the right to join hosts Colombia as the continent’s representatives. Here’s a look at what they will bring to the event.

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Ecuador’s Smash and Grab Downs Paraguay

By Gordon Fleetwood, writing from New York City

South American U20 Championships: Day 6

Paraguay bossed this Sunday encounter, yet still lost after Ecuador sneaked a goal in mid-way off the second half. The young Ecuadorians held on for dear lie for most of the game, but Edson Montaño’s header meant that they left with all three points. The result means that Group B remains open, with two spots to the next round still undecided.

It took a while for Paraguay to establish their dominance in the game, but after the 20 minute mark, Ecuador were camped out in their own half. Paraguay created chances at will, and poor finishing was one of the reasons they didn’t break the deadlock. The other was the magnificent John Jaramillo, who was having an inspired game in goal for Ecuador. Time after time he kept the opposition out with some spectacular saves from a myriad of attacks. The best was probably a close range header from Marcos Caicedo which seemed destined for the back of the net. It was because of Jaramillo that the first period ended scoreless.

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