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Utter the words 'Federico Macheda' to any self-respecting football fan, and odds are they'll be transported back to Martin Tyler's iconic commentary from April 2009.
Manchester United are facing Aston Villa. It's the third minute of added time and Sir Alex Ferguson's title-chasers desperately need a goal from anywhere to regain top spot in the Premier League from Liverpool. Cristiano Ronaldo is on the pitch, but an under-strength United look set to drop points to their most bitter rivals.
That is until the ball drops to an unknown 17-year-old by the name of Federicho Macheda, brought on just 30 minutes earlier for his Premier League debut. He turns Luke Young like he isn't there before executing a stunning curling effort that beats Brad Friedel.
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"Great turn by Macheda," Tyler exclaims on Sky Sports as the ball hits the back of the net, not even having enough time to describe the shot before his voice enters into a pitch that could shatter glass. "Astonishing," he continues, as Villa's players drop to their knees while Macheda runs off to the corner of the pitch with Darren Fletcher in tow.
"The response of champions from a player you won't have heard of before, you've certainly heard of him now," Tyler adds, before Andy Gray chimes in with: "Dare I say it, a star is born."
What do you remember of Macheda's iconic debut goal? Let us know in the comments section below.
But like so many United prodigies, Macheda's star burned bright but not for long. Incredibly, his goal against Villa – which ended up being hugely important as United won the league by four points from Liverpool – came in one of only 36 appearances he would ever make for the Red Devils.
Remarkably, he repeated the heroics of his first appearance just under a week later against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. With United struggling to break down the Black Cats, Ferguson introduced Macheda off the bench.
This time he needed just 46 seconds to find the back of the net, scoring a goal that sealed another important victory for United. That was it for the exciting young Italian during the 2008-09 season, but there could be no doubting the impact he had made both on the pitch and in terms of the destination of the title.
However, Macheda's season ended on an unsavoury note as masked robbers broke into his home in Sale and made away with cash and jewellery. A friend of the forward suffered a minor cut to his head during the attack, a spokesman added at the time.
The next year, during which Macheda signed a four-year contract, the forward would struggle with injury issues, restricting him to just ten appearances, only five of which came in the Premier League.
The following season began with the Italian ace in and around United's first-team, scoring once again against Aston Villa in a 2-2 draw with the Villans in November 2010. But then followed a nomadic period away from Old Trafford for Macheda, who had six loan spells in four seasons, only one of which, at Birmingham, could be considered a success.
Macheda began his loan life at Sampdoria in 2011, a move he regrets making. "I wouldn’t make that decision again," he said. "I once said that going to Sampdoria was a mistake because it was a negative experience for me but it’s part and parcel of a footballer’s career.
"Sometimes you take a good, sometimes a bad decision. That one was a bad one. But it was a good lesson, which taught me a lot.”
Having suffered relegation from Serie A, Macheda returned to United but faced limited opportunities before moving to QPR – a stint that would last just a few months as injuries once again forced him onto the sidelines.
Subsequent spells at Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers and Birmingham followed as it became clear that for all Macheda's initial promise, he would not make the grade at Old Trafford.
When the four-year deal he signed as a breakthrough talent finally came to an end in 2014, he joined Cardiff City, then managed by a certain Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had overseen Macheda's progression during his stint as boss of United's reserves.
As per his first game for United five years prior, Macheda once again netted on his debut, this time bagging a brace against Port Vale in the League Cup. But one season, 33 appearances and six goals later, he was loaned to Nottingham Forest, where he made just three appearances, scoring no goals.
Cardiff cancelled his contract in the summer of 2016, and it was three months before he found his next club, Italian minnows Novara. He would remain there until the end of his deal in 2018, scoring 11 goals in 50 matches.
That prompted Greek giants Panathinaikos to take a chance on him – and he didn't disappoint. For the first time in his career, Macheda enjoyed a prolonged run of games at a single club, and he found his scoring boots too.
The 6ft 1in forward bagged 40 goals in 116 games in Greece, helping Panathinaikos to win the Greek Cup last season and getting his career back on track at a crucial time.
After four years with the Athens club, Macheda joined his fifth permanent club earlier this summer, signing for Turkish Super Lig side Ankaragucu.
Newly-promoted to the top-tier of Turkish football, Ankaragucu will be hoping Macheda and former Stoke City loanee Jese can score the goals to help keep them in the division this season. Macheda certainly seems to be enjoying life in his new surroundings, writing: "I’m ready for this New challenge, thank you for the trust @ankaragucu let’s go," upon signing for his new club.
Now 30, the one-time heir to Ronaldo's throne made his debut for Ankaragucu earlier this week, playing 61 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Konyaspor.
Some 13 years on from that debut for United against Aston Villa, Macheda looks to be in a good place. But does he regret his time at Old Trafford? Not on your nelly.
"I don’t regret anything," he said in 2020. "Manchester United was a very beautiful experience for me and I still have many fantastic memories of my time there. Memories that I still take with me everywhere I go.
"In Manchester I grew up not only as a player but also as a man and I will always cherish those wonderful memories of my time playing for the biggest club in the world."
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