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Kiko & the Cruyff

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17 year-old Federico Macheda’s story is the dream of every youth player around the world. While playing in Lazio’s Academy system, Manchester United swooped in and signed the forward just after his sixteenth birthday. His family relocated to England, and he immediately started for their U17 team. In his second year with the club, he continued to develop with the U17 team then joined the Manchester United Reserve team under the tutelage of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Currently the Man U Reserve Manager, the former Manchester United forward scored 91 goals for the Red Devils, none more important than his winning strike against Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League championship.

Bayern Munich up 1-0, three minutes of stoppage time added to the game. It’s still magical, almost ten years later.

And now a new precocious talent has emerged at just the right moment for Manchester United. After moving to the Reserves and scoring eight goals in eight games, Macheda was scheduled to head back to Italy for an Italy U17 National Team game. Instead, he was selected for the bench of the EPL team against Aston Villa.

With Villa ahead by a goal and the Premiership title slipping from their grasp, Sir Alex Ferguson ran the Kiko out in the heat of the battle for his first appearance. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the equalizer, then Macheda worked his magic. Notice the Cruyff move when he first receives the ball, it is poked away by the Villa defender, then he asks for the ball in space. It is as beautiful a first goal as you will ever see.