GERARD PIQUE - The Eight Wonder

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pique's pledge

Some of Spain's top clubs came knocking in the summer, but Gerard Pique is glad Sir Alex never opened the door.

Pique, a Spain U21 international and a product of Barcelona's famed youth system, joined United in 2004 but featured only fleetingly until this season. In fact, opportunities were so limited in 2006/07 Sir Alex sent the defender back to Spain for a season-long loan spell at Real Zaragoza.

His performances in La Liga were outstanding and it's hardly surprising Zaragoza were keen to make the move permanent. Earlier this month, it transpired Atletico Madrid had also attempted to prise the 20-year-old from Old Trafford.

Leaving United, however, just doesn't fit into Pique's plans.

"Zaragosa tried to sign me in the summer but I knew what the answer would be," Pique told The Times' The Game podcast.

"Since the first day I arrived at Old Trafford, Sir Alex has showed me he has a lot of confidence in me and I'm trying to do my best to show him I can be part of this team. I can be a Manchester United player.

"He talks to you a lot – not only about football, but about everything in life. Elsewhere, there are other leaders. Rio Ferdinand talks a lot to you on the pitch and helps you out. Ryan Giggs is quiet but in the dressing room the power and the experience he has really comes out. It's important for players like me to be around someone like Ryan because the confidence he has in himself can pass on to you and it helps your game."

Pique's confidence will have sky-rocketed when he was handed his first Champions League start against Dynamo Kyiv… and then opened the scoring. It was his first goal in a Reds shirt, although he admits he was more than a little surprised to find the net.

"It was a big problem," he joked. "I didn't know how to celebrate the goal!"

In the end, Pique opted for a single fist-pump. Like his approach to defending, it was instinctive yet understated, and something United fans would love to see more of in coming seasons.


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