Federico Macheda’s stunning goal for Manchester United against Aston Villa in 2009 was a truly unforgettable moment.
Macheda’s goal sealed a 3-2 win after a Cristiano Ronaldo double, to keep United on control of the title race.
The Italian teenager followed up it win a goal against Sunderland a week later, but that was as good as it got for the the young striker.
Macheda could not establish himself as a first team regular at United and eventually left Old Trafford in 2014 after five different loan spells.
Macheda finally finds a home
Macheda is still playing football and he is 30-years-old. After a career where it feels like he has not lived up to his potential, he has finally found a home where he can be happy.
The striker is celebrating making his 100th league appearance for Greek side Panathinaikos, in which he has scored 36 goals.
Macheda has led a nomadic career until finding success at Panathinaikos. It has seen him struggle in Germany on loan at Stuttgart, and in England with Cardiff.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed him in 2014 for Cardiff City, and it was an unsuccessful move. Macheda ended up being loaned out to Nottingham Forest, for who he played just three times and failed to score.
By this time in 2016, it was looking like Macheda might struggle to get to his 30s in professional football. His career was spiralling.
In six years of loan and permanent moves at Sampdoria, QPR, Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers, Birmingham, Cardiff and Forest, Macheda had scored just 19 goals, an average of around three goals a season.
Macheda returned to Italy with Novara in Serie B, and while this was not a particularly prolific spell, he at least got the chance to play regularly, where he made 50 appearances in two seasons, scoring 11 goals.
He ended up moving to Panathinaikos as a free agent when his time at Novara was up, and he has not looked back.
Macheda is into his fourth season at Panathiniakos and he has finally found a football home. While there will always be a soft spot for him at Old Trafford, it was not where his future lay.
100 league appearances at a single club is a career first for the striker. He made just 19 for United, and his highest previously was 51 at Novara.
He could be at Panathaniakos for a while too. He is under contract until 2023 after signing a contract extension last year.
Macheda has scored 40 goals in all competitions for the Greek Super League side, including four in 11 this season.
He was just 17 when he scored his sensational goal against Villa, and speaking to The Mail earlier this year, he regretted not being able to seize his chance at United further.
Macheda said: “When you’re young, you don’t understand many things. If I had the mentality I have now, things could have been much different for me.”
His career has taken a long time to find stability, and now he finally has it. Macheda deserves credit for not giving up and getting back on track. The best may yet be to come.
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