Pique, the player who was forged at Manchester United



Gerard Pique may not have become an established starter during his time at Manchester United, but he did learn many lessons as he matured as a defender and as a person, something he recognises now.

The centre-back set course for England aged just 16, in the 2004/05 campaign, after being approached by Sir Alex Ferguson.

He played just one match in his first season, a Champions League group stage game against Fenerbahce where he featured for 27 minutes.

In his second campaign, he made three appearances. In the third season, Pique went on loan to Real Zaragoza where he played in 28 games.

The fourth year as a United player saw the defender have more prominence as he played 12 matches: nine in the Premier League and three in the Champions League.

The recurring problem for Pique was that he had names ahead of him that, in reality, he was not going to usurp for another few years, such as Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. There were also Mikael Silvestre and Gabriel Heinze fighting for spots in the side, so the competition was tough.

Despite that, Pique was able to learn from those players that played in one of United’s greatest sides. In his final year in Manchester, he won the Premier League and the Champions League.

The 32-year-old acknowledges that Manchester, where he coincided with Cristiano Ronaldo, is his second home and he is very excited about returning in the quarter-finals with Barcelona.

He will be returning as a changed man, though. More mature, more focused and more experienced.

The first year after he left England, the defender played 45 games for the Blaugrana at 21 years old. He formed a tandem with Carles Puyol, from whom he learned how to become the figure and leader of Barcelona today.

Since Pique returned to the Catalan side, his role in the team has been a constant. And now he is a footballer that is making history in the Champions League