5 Most Successful Manchester United Alumni
For many aspiring footballers, Manchester United is the Ultimate—the zenith of the profession.
Whether having left by choice, or been given a sharp kick out the door, what of the men who have had to consider life after Old Trafford?
Here are five stars who have found their feet and proved their worth outside of Manchester, becoming legends in their own right.
(Note: This list is restricted to players who wore the red of Manchester United in the Premier League era).
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
An absolute no-brainer to kick things off.
Having swapped Old Trafford for the Bernabeu in 2009 in a world record £80 million transfer, Cristiano Ronaldo has broken record after record, scoring more goals than appearances made.
At Real Madrid, the Portuguese phenomenon has cemented his standing as one of the two best footballers on the planet (I won't give you my opinion as to who is number one—a debate for another day).
And while Manchester United fans would have seriously doubted he could improve as a player at the time of his departure, he most certainly has.
An £80 million bargain!
Angel Martinez/Getty Images
The media didn't pay much attention to Gerard Pique's departure in 2008.
A Manchester United youngster who had impressed during his 23 appearances for the club, a £5 million fee for a homesick Spaniard was nevertheless considered ample compensation.
Having developed and refined his game at Old Trafford, his ensuing time at Barcelona has seen him win it all, becoming a mainstay in the best football team in recent memory.
It's nice to have helped.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Many wince when recalling Diego Forlan's time with Manchester United.
Despite scoring several important goals during the title-winning 2002/2003 season (including that which made the Scousers cry), Forlan soon began to be known as a certified flop, struggling to match the consistency of his strike partner, Ruud van Nistelrooy.
But having left United in 2004, Forlan's subsequent time at Spanish club Villarreal saw him become one of the most feared strikers in Europe, winning the Pichichi Trophy for highest scorer in La Liga for the 2004/2005 season.
The Old Trafford faithful still sing his name though, as if he had done it all for the Reds.
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
The American-born Giuseppe Rossi's journey is an interesting one.
Having spent three uneventful years in England (two at United, one at Newcastle on loan), scoring only one goal in sixteen league appearances, Rossi has subsequently become a certified star on the continent.
At his current club Villarreal, Rossi is renowned for his technical ability and versatility, a talent that has seen him linked with no less than Barcelona in the past.
With Villarreal now relegated, a move to one of Europe's finest beckons.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
USA and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard pips Jaap Stam to the final spot on the list.
It can be argued that Howard was never given a good chance to prove his worth at Manchester United, but, at Goodison Park, he has consequently become one of the most consistent shot-stoppers in the Premier League.
If it weren't for United acquiring Edwin van der Sar a couple of years after Howard arrived at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to let the American leave for only £3 million would have been more closely questioned.
A veteran of almost 300 games for the Merseyside club, Howard has become a stalwart for David Moyes' overachieving team.