I am writing this letter really just to say a massive thank you for being an amazing servant to my football club and country over a number of years and to highlight my huge connection to your journey with us and let you know how much what you have done has meant to me.
To set the scene I was born into an avid Manchester United supporting family and if I was going to be interested in football there was no way I’d support anybody else. I’m told I “waved a flag” at the age of 2 during the 1999 thrilling Champions League final, though I can’t quite remember it unfortunately, but in 2004 aged 7 I began to be interested in football. After seeing United lift the 2003/4 FA Cup I was hooked and I suddenly became aware of football and started learning about it. That was the year that you joined us. 13 years later I am still a big fan and Manchester United and football in general play an incredibly huge role in my life and always will, my blood is literally red.
So far you have been a big part of the team in every season I have been a United fan for. It’s gradually occurring to me that players get older and whilst it never seemed like yours would careers have to end and some when soon you’ll unfortunately no longer be a part of this team, so I wanted to do something like this to say thank you and mark your time with us. We obviously don’t know when you’re time as a United player will be ending and confirmation of such announcements do come out of the blue, so I didn’t want to risk putting something in the post at the time and you not being able to see it and I also think my United love is so much about sharing what I feel and telling people about connections such as this so an open letter now was a good thing to do. Then it’s something to repost and look back on on the occasion of your time coming to an end with us.
So I firstly wanted to explore that journey. You have just always been there for me in a United shirt and an England one, scoring and assisting goals, bringing such passion, leading the team. We could always rely on you and you always knew and showed what it meant to put on a United shirt. It has been an absolute honour to watch you grow from boy, to man, to legend at the club. Seeing you become both captain and highest ever scorer for both my club and country, both things I always knew you could achieve. We’re lucky at United to support a club with so many legends, many I have seen come and go and I am in aw of many before my time. But you are the first United legend which I saw in the beginning, the middle and the end and you are without doubt my favourite ever football player because of that. I hope to have kids in the future and I will try my very hardest to get them supporting United and I just think back to all the stories my Dad told me about many past United legends and I’ll be telling my kids stories about you.
I am somebody who likes to mention specific highlights, so here is a list of some of my favourite moments of yours at United. I have to start with goals because that is the greatest thing you brought to games I think, my favourite goals of yours include the Newcastle screamer, the derby overhead kick which is one of my favourite ever football moments, the half way line volley, the brilliant Wembley goal in the 2011 Champions League final which symbolised how you were a beacon of hope in more difficult times and a last minute winner against AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League semi final first leg. Your finest moments for United have also included a hat trick on your debut, many more hat tricks like in the 8-2 win, becoming our top scorer, winning the Champions League in 2008, the Club World Cup that followed and a few League Cup wins in particular we owe a lot to you in the 2006 and 2010 finals and you got us to that 2010 final in my eyes after starring in the 2 legged Manchester derby semi. You won the league a fair few times too being so key to campaigns as the eye of the devastating strike force of one of the greatest ever United teams under Sir Alex Ferguson. You also like I said shone a light in darker times, when Ronaldo left and Sir Alex had retired you really stepped up to the plate for this club and we’ll never forget that. I think 2009/10 was my favourite season of yours you were just electric and constant in front of goal.
I wanted to mention the final highlight that springs to mind separately, it’s the 2016 FA Cup win. As I said my United journey began just before yours with our 2004 win and it was sad not to win another one for 12 years and see you and Carrick win everything else but this historic cup. So it was really fitting that when we went behind at Wembley it was you that defied the game plan to go on an inspiring run to set up Juan Mata for the equaliser and we saw your total desire and passion for the club shine through to guide us to extra time where we won the trophy. After winning everything else this was a trophy I craved to see us lift again in an era where I understood football more fully and to see you and Carrick do that after the final made me so proud. Each and every one of these highlights on its own made me immensely proud of you and the club.
But it’s not just my club you have represented so brilliantly but my country too, which is where you burst onto the scene as a teenager. You’ve been a legend for England too and the country owes you a lot. I think every football fan wants to see players from their club play for their country that is not possible for many reds due to our global support and for a long time you were the only United player getting into England teams, so I feel so lucky to have had you as that figure of someone I supported on two fronts.
In my time supporting United you are the player I have had the deepest personal bond with by a long way. I have a poster of you in my room, I named you the most influential player on me after supporting United consciously for 10 years, I still have a red cap that said your name on it which I used to wear whilst watching every game before my parents would fork out for a United shirt for me which was like the good luck charm and when I did the Old Trafford tour in 2014 and they asked if I wanted my certificate with the personalised player message and they asked who you were the only name that I was ever going to ask for. It feels like our journey together has just gone too quick, indicated by the fact that Marcus Rashford who is the same age as me is now starting his career in a similar firework fashion to you I must say. But I will always remember this connection as I grow older and you will always be my first favourite player and boyhood hero. I have to say that personally for you too on this journey we’ve watched you really grow as a person and your life develop and it’s been great to watch your wonderful family build. Also since you had such a big entrance to the stage of world football there were many pressures and I think the way you have dealt with the at times constant press hype around you and your family has been admirable. This is just one of the things on and off the pitch that makes you a top role model which lent itself well to captaining United and England.
So I’d like to finish by saying thank you once again for serving us perfectly, for being a player we could rely on, scoring so many goals, being responsible for much of Man United’s success over the last 13 years and just being my hero. Whenever your United playing career comes to an end and wherever and whatever you do next I wish you and your family all the best and just know that this is a United fans’ life you have had a huge impact on and I will never forget that.