Victor Wanyama: "Facing Manchester United will be a special feeling"
The giant midfield destroyer was instrumental in ensuring Celtic qualified for the next stage of the UEFA Champions League after scoring in a legendary 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the group stages.
The draw, which takes place in Nyon, Switzerland Thursday morning, could pit Neil Lennon’s Scottish champions in a dream clash against the three-time winners of the most prestigious club tournament in the world.
Celtic also has a rich history in the competition—the Glaswegian club was the first British team ever to boast the honour of being the champions of Europe and they remain the only Scottish club to have ever raised the esteemed trophy.
To add to the spice of a possible last 16 clash, Manchester United and Celtic enjoy a special relationship, often celebrating the service of many ex-players by arranging close-season testimonial matches between the two prominent English and Scottish clubs.
The testimonials of Manchester United legends, Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson and Ryan Giggs, have all been against Celtic. Roy Keane’s tribute match between the two clubs in 2006 attracted the biggest crowd for an English testimonial in history—69,591.
Wanyama is aware how special a final-16 draw against the old friends (and rivals) will be: speaking to Goal.com he said,
"Facing Manchester United will be a special feeling. I have watched them for some time and heard several good things about the team and I am also told there is a special rivalry. They are certainly amongst favourites to win the Champions League and it will be amazing to face them."
The 21-year-old Kenyan international, continuously linked with a move to Manchester United, is astutely aware of the importance of the football club’s history: Wanyama is the first Celtic player to have worn the No.67 shirt in honour of the Lisbon Lions—the team that won the European Cup in 1967.
Via independant.co.uk, he said, “After reading the club's history, I have chosen 67 as my squad number to show appreciation to the 1967 squad."
There is a one in six chance of Wanyama’s Celtic side drawing Manchester United and having the opportunity to live his dream—the Red Devils could also be matched against group runners-up Real Madrid, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto and Valencia.
Following continued speculation that Manchester United scouts have been tracking Wanyama, a titanic clash between the two sides would offer the fans a first-hand look at the domineering midfield general.
The jury is still out on his potential ability to transition his skills from the Scottish Premier League to the English Premiership, but it would certainly seem he has the desired attitude to slot into a United midfield that many United fans still feel is in need of repairing.
Sir Alex Ferguson would be over the moon with a draw against Celtic, so let’s hope Victor gets his chance.
Would you like to see Victor Wanyama close up in a tie against United? Give me your views below or hit me up on Twitter @jonathanbeever.