Federico Macheda didn’t enjoy the Manchester United career that once promised when he burst onto the scene from the club’s academy against Aston Villa in April 2009. But his special debut goal to seal a last-gasp 3-2 win edged United towards another Premier League title and was one more of hundreds of iconic memories made at Old Trafford.
That is perhaps the strongest counter-argument to the possibility of a brand new stadium on the land the club own next to the current Theatre of Dreams.
If you demolish Old Trafford, the memories and legacy cherished by millions perish with it, especially for those who personally delivered one of the magical moments themselves.
That’s the case with Macheda, whose turn and finish in front of a rapturous Stretford End 15 years ago went down in United folklore.
And while the 32-year-old has acknowledged the need to upgrade Old Trafford, he has opposed reported deliberations over rebuilding the stadium from scratch.
“I would be against destroying the stadium and building it somewhere else. I believe the structure and the history of the place should stay there, and then make some improvements,” Macheda told the Mail.
“Even if you build next to it — and I’m sure they would make it an amazing stadium — it’s a place where all the fans enjoyed great games and memories.
“The first day I signed for Manchester United when I was a kid, walking inside the stadium gave me a special feeling. I’d never seen something like it. It’s magical.
“It’s not only the place where I scored the goal. It’s home for everybody who supports United. When I went back, it was the same.
“Obviously, it needs to be upgraded, but the history of this club is also this stadium, Old Trafford.”
Macheda has been a journeyman throughout his career, playing for 12 clubs on the road from United’s academy to Super Lig outfit MKE Ankaragucu, whom he currently represents.
The Italian striker spent loan spells at Sampdoria, Queens Park Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers and Birmingham City before leaving United for Cardiff City in 2014.
Stints at Nottingham Forest, Novara and Panathinaikos followed before landing at Ankaragucu in the summer of 2022.
He spent the second half of last season on another loan at APOEL Nicosia before returning to Turkey, scoring four goals in 17 appearances this term.
Macheda certainly won’t be the former United player to prefer redevelopment of Old Trafford over a rebuild, a stance also agreed upon by many matchgoing fans.