Burnley’s record signing from Anderlecht, Steven Defour, has recently revealed his heartbreak about how his move to Manchester United collapsed seven seasons ago. The Belgian midfielder was wanted by Manchester United’s former manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 2009 but he broke his metatarsal.
Defour, 21 at the time, had suffered a broken metatarsal and was reassured by Ferguson that ‘everything will work out’ despite his setback. After spending six seasons with Anderlecht, the 28-year-old eventually joined Porto in 2011 and three seasons later, he rejoined his homeland, Anderlecht.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, he said:
“Before my injury it [a United move] was one of the possibilities, because I knew they were following me but then came that severe injury and that was quite a hard one from me.
“It was an open fracture of my foot and I was really down because, for the first time, I could have played in the Champions League and then three days before I broke my foot so I was really down.
“It was difficult to find my form before my injury to have the level of a club like Manchester United.”
As well as injury woes, Defour has experienced lows of a different kind during his career as a footballer. Having captained Belgian side Standard Liege, making 127 appearances and scoring 13 goals, he later joined bitter rivals Anderlecht in a move which caused outrage among the Liege supporters.
During a derby game, fans displayed a banner of his decapitated head alongside the words, ‘Red or Dead’, and he went on to receive a red card.
Ferguson’s letter read:
“Dear Steven, I have just been given the news of your serious injury during one of your games and would like to on behalf of Manchester United wish you a full and speedy recovery.
“I am sure at this moment you will be feeling pretty down and wondering what’s in store for you, whether you will ever get back playing or how long it is going to take before you get back playing.
“Steven these are natural concerns and everyone would think the same way but I must tell you that modern medicine and treatments are incredible and you should trust them.
“Also when you get back to your physio you will feel that maybe you are on the way back but don’t think that’s easy, it’s hard work, I’m sure you know that.
“I am going to pay attention as to how you are progressing and I am going to get in touch with your club to get the information on your recovery. Incidentally, it was one of your supporters who wrote to me informing me of your accident. His name is Jean-Manuel Fontaine, so remember his name, you may want to thank him for taking the time to write to me.
“Good luck Steven and I hope you are in good spirits and ready to climb the long road to recovery.
Sir Alex Ferguson.”