Federico Macheda immediately became a Manchester United hero with that goal for injury time against Aston Villa … but why, after 11 years, not to become a Red Devils star?
- It has been 11 years since Federico Macheda made a stunning debut
- The then striker of Manchester United scored a miracle goal in injury time
- Striker earned United a 3-2 win over Aston Villa and sent them to the top of the table
- Macheda, however, struggled to maintain his form during his career at Old Trafford
Football has a great history of teenagers exploding on the stage before becoming stars of the game.
Manchester United had passed an entire class of theirs in the early 1990s, and then there’s Federico Macheda.
In 2009, the then 17-year-old striker was called on the bench for Manchester United’s massive showdown against a nifty Aston Villa side that was in the mix for a Champions League spot despite poor form.
Federico Macheda celebrated his crucial goal against Aston Villa in 2009 on his senior debut
Macheda’s goal came in the third minute of injury time at Old Trafford to earn three points
The stakes were even higher for United. On their way to the game, they had lost their previous two Premier League encounters and slipped to the top of the table behind Liverpool a day earlier in a season seeking the Reds’ record with 18 highest flight titles.
Despite going up 1-0 in Old Trafford, Villa took a 2-1 lead for the hour in the 58th minute. Desperate times for Sir Alex Ferguson called for desperate measures and by turning to his bank, he gave Macheda the nod to make his debut by replacing Nani with 29 minutes of play.
Cristiano Ronaldo equalized for another 10 minutes, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s stuttering side needed three points to get their title bid back on track.
The goal caused delirious scenes at Old Trafford when Macheda was harassed by his teammates
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson congratulates Macheda on his decisive goal after the crucial 3-2 win over Villa that helped United regain control of the Premier League title race
Those 10 minutes passed quickly and then a few more. However, hope is never lost when United pursues late goals. It is no coincidence that the term ‘Fergie time’ was coined.
But even supporters of United could not have imagined what was to come. Ryan Giggs played a short pass in the penalty area and after a massive backward bend, a young Italian, far underground, would have been unaware of a previously punched shot over the goal past a helpless Brad Friedel to be another dramatic late winner at the Theater of Dreams.
Old Trafford erupted. Even Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler could barely finish the Italian’s name without his voice squeaking.
It is often forgotten that Macheda also scored another winning goal for United – at Sunderland a week after his Villa attack came off the bench again
His co-commentator Andy Gray followed the ‘a star is born’ line and in the immediate post-game reaction it was hard not to agree with him.
Macheda had grown from a promising young attacker making up the figures on an attacking, worn-out American bank, to the city’s conversation in just over half an hour.
A week later at Sunderland he did it all again. He got off the bench with 15 minutes left to play and beat the winner in the Stadium of Light a minute later and looked destined for glory alongside United, who won the title for a third consecutive season.
Macheda (second from left) celebrates helping with teammates after winning the league title in 2009
Manchester United 2008-2014
36 games, 5 goals
Sampdoria 2011 (loan)
16 games, 1 goal
Queens Park Rangers 2012 (loan)
6 games, 0 goals
Stuttgart 2013 (loan)
18 games, 0 goals
Doncaster Rovers 2013 (loan)
15 games, 3 goals
Birmingham City 2014 (loan)
18 games, 10 goals
Cardiff City 2014-2016
33 games, 8 goals
Nottingham Forest 2016 (loan)
3 games, 0 goals
52 games, 11 goals
55 games, 24 goals
Unfortunately for Macheda, his career had already peaked and would never reach the same heights again.
In the next 2009-10 campaign, he didn’t score more than two days before Villa’s anniversary goal, and even that came in a 2-1 home loss to Chelsea, which proved costly for the Red Devils in defense of their title.
A disastrous move to Sampdoria followed in 2011, where he only scored once in 16 games. A year later, he scored even less in half a dozen appearances for Queens Park Rangers.
By the time 2013 rolled around, it was four years after his breakthrough. Ferguson had left, David Moyes was in, but at the age of 21 his career was already waning.
In 2014 he left United for two unsuccessful years in Cardiff and it wasn’t until 2018 that he started to find some form again when he joined Panathinaikos.
In the peak years of his career at the age of 28, Macheda has scored 24 goals in 55 games for the Greek side to build a career that should have resembled much more at the Theater of Dreams in April 11 years ago.
Macheda has since taken shape for Greek side Panathinaikos after joining them in 2018