Antonio Valencia credits number swap for improved form | inside World Soccer

Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia believes the improvement in his form is down to the change in his squad number.

Antonio Valencia celebrates after scoring Manchester United's fourth goal against Leverkusen
Antonio Valencia celebrates after scoring Manchester United's fourth goal against Leverkusen

Photo: Getty Images

The Ecuador international, who arrived at Old Trafford from Wigan Athletic in June 2009, had won the fans player of the season award after the 2011/12 season before switching to No 7 for the 2012/13 season.

It was a massive responsibility for Valencia as the United No 7 shirt has been worn by club legends such as George Best, Bryan Robson, Éric Cantona, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

And Valencia had what many considered his worst season in United colours last season, scoring only once in the entire campaign.

Now the 28-year-old has switched back to his old No 25 shirt in reference to the number wore by his friend and international colleague Christian Benítez, who died earlier this year.

Speaking to MUTV, Valencia said: "I think it turned out to be a very good number for me when I first arrived at the club as I was just given the No 25 more or less.

"But things went really, really well. I played well wearing that shirt so I think it was a decision I came to in the summer. Maybe if I can get back to the form I showed before, why not? It is a good idea to start wearing it again.

"It had been something I had been thinking about for quite a long time. I'd been considering a change back and maybe it is psychological or maybe it is just all about a good-luck symbol, if you like. We get a lot of that in Ecuador, maybe superstition, and l hope it continues and still brings me more good luck this season."

Both David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson feel the wide man has benefited psychologically from ditching the No 7 jersey vacated by Michael Owen's departure in 2012.

Moyes said at a press conference: "He kept telling me that he needed to change his number, so we got that changed for him. Sometimes psychologically it can make a difference for a player."

Ferguson added on MUTV: "Antonio was back to his best. Changing the number of his jersey again - it's amazing how it can affect a player like that.

"Maybe it was a great thing for him to do that. He used his initiative to go back to 25 and was fantastic."