David Moyes needed a source of inspiration and badly too. Given the impossible task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Everton boss has had a nightmare start to his Old Trafford career, losing to fierce rivals Liverpool and Manchester City coupled with several unconvincing displays from the Red Devils. The pressure was truly on and the Scotsman must now realise the herculean task placed in his hands. So when United headed to the Stadium of Light seeking all three points against Sunderland, Moyes himself couldn't have dreamt of the player who would secure him all 3 points. The Black Cats took the lead early on but along came the first ever Muslim to play for United - Adnan Januzaj, the 18 year old Belgian who announced himself on the big stage with two brilliant goals and the start of a great career.
Adnan Januzaj was born in Brussels to Kosovar-Albanian parents on 5th February, 1995. As a 10-year-old boy, he signed for Belgian side Anderlecht. He left Anderlecht for Manchester United in March 2011 as a 16-year-old after impressing in a skills session in Brussels.
Towards the end of the 2012–13 season, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson gave him a first team squad number of 44, however he didn't feature in the remainder of the season although he was an unused substitute in Ferguson's last game before retirement; away to West Bromwich Albion. Januzaj has won the 2013 Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year award, at only 18 years of age. He joined the first team squad for the 2013–14 pre-season games and was one of United's best performers including scoring a goal. Januzaj also started Rio Ferdinand's testimonial in a match which saw United lose 3–1 to Sevilla. However, he won the Man of the match award. The highlight being him providing an assist for United's only goal.
On 11 August 2013, Januzaj made his competitive debut for Manchester United against Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Community Shield after coming on for Robin van Persie. He made his Premier League debut a month later, coming on as a 68th-minute substitute for Ashley Young in a 2–0 home win over Crystal Palace on 14 September.
On 5 October 2013, in what was his first start for the club, Januzaj scored twice as United came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory away to Sunderland and claiming the Man of the Match award. It was a matured and composed display from the 18 year old who was booked earlier for simulation but didn't prevent him from bagging a brace, the first being a crisp finish and the second a brilliant volley. What a way to announce yourself on the Premier League stage and this surely means the young lad has a chance to make the starting XI and when you look at Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia who have all been dreadful, he has a case. Compared to those clowns, Januzaj plays like someone with years of experience and confidence bellied on youth.
Born in the generation of highly talented Belgians, Januzaj is being closely watched by England. Roy Hodgson has stated once he is naturalised, he has a real good shot of making the English squad and boy will that be a catch for the three lions. But according to FIFA rules, he must have lived in England for at least five years after his 18th birthday so that means he will be ineligible until February, 2018. Worth the wait if you ask me and English fans will be praying fervently he doesn't switch allegiance before then as the Belgian-born player is eligible to play international football for Albania, Serbia and Turkey as well as for the country of his birth.
A journey started for Adnan Januzaj over the weekend and it promises to be a long, illustrious and fulfilling one. Just as the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham went on to become United greats from a tender age, Januzaj is well on his way and who knows, he just might exceed their achievements. Watch out world, a star has been born.
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