Sir Alex Ferguson is known for being able to unearth unknown gems and turn them into superstars.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Peter Schmeichel and Nemanja Vidic are just a few of those who have been plucked from obscurity and converted into serial trophy winners.
However, the Manchester United legend didn’t think much of one player who went on to beat Ferguson’s beloved Red Devils on penalties in the Europa League final.
Former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin came off the bench to score in the penalty shootout for Villarreal, ten years after the Scot wrote him off.
The Frenchman was a 20-year-old when he was thrown in to the starting lineup for the Gunners’ humiliating 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford, being withdrawn in the 62nd minute.
“Arsenal played a young boy in midfield; Francis Coquelin,” wrote Ferguson. “He was completely out of his depth. I had hardly heard of him and he barely played again.”
Not only was the United legend’s assertion misjudged, but it was also patently untrue, even when the autobiography was written in 2013.
The defeat to Manchester United was Coquelin’s first Premier League appearance, and went on to make another 104 for the Gunners.
The Frenchman won two FA Cups during his time in North London, starting in the 2015 final and coming off the bench in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat of Chelsea two years later.
Coquelin left for Valencia in January 2018 having dropped down the pecking order under new boss Unai Emery, starting in the Spanish side’s 2-1 win over Barcelona in the 2019 Copa del Rey final.
The former France youth international then made the move to Villarreal last summer, being signed by the man who sold him at Arsenal.
Coquelin has featured 32 times for the Yellow Submarine this season, and wrapped up their impressive campaign with a win over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, qualifying for the Champions League in the process.
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