When the world first saw him in a Manchester United shirt in a competitive match, during the Community Shield against Wigan Athletic in August, not many knew how to pronounce his name. Januzzaj, Janussaj, Januzay, Yanussaj—there were many variants.
The confusion carried on until early October, when United travelled to Sunderland in the Premier League, where the wiry young Belgian came out of the blue and knocked two superbly crafted goals into the hosts’ net to give his team a nervy win.
Even then, Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves had no clue how on earth to pronounce the boy’s name.
It was only after this match that Manchester United themselves clarified the exact pronunciation: Yann-uh-zai. They might as well have done, since by then Adnan Januzaj had become a household name for anyone following the English game.
United seemed to have unearthed the next big thing. And no, as much as the rival fans would like to chirp, it appears highly unlikely that this boy of Albanian-Kosovan descent, born in Brussels, would ever be another Federico Macheda.
In less than half a season, Januzaj has become the name, mispronounced if so, on everybody’s lips. In just 16 appearances for the Red Devils, Januzaj has already won comparisons with some of United’s best ever players—Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and George Best.
While such evaluations might be a bit premature for now, what with the lad only being 18 years of age, that hasn’t stopped debate over what his ideal jersey number should be: Simply because the young Belgian can play in such a variety of positions.