Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia: Sir Alex Ferguson gave me extra motivation to make quick return from injury

Winger feared he would never be the same player following his leg break, but is happy to have participated in the season run-in, whilst lauding the impact of Wayne Rooney

Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia has hailed the inspirational impact of boss Sir Alex Ferguson as a key factor behind his return to both form and fitness following his horror leg break.

The Ecuadorian suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle in the 0-0 home draw with Rangers in the Champions League group stages back in September, after his left foot caught in the Old Trafford turf.

Valencia made his first appearance following the injury in March's FA Cup sixth round win over Arsenal, and has since featured regularly in the starting XI, helping to guide his team to a record 19th Premier League title.

Speaking to reporters, Valencia said: “The next morning I was in hospital and the manager came.

“Mike Phelan, his assistant, was there as well. They didn't really set me any targets, they just said, 'Look, these things happen in football, don't worry, take all the time you need, and everything will be fine'.

“That particular moment really gave me the extra motivation to try to get back as quickly as possible. It really inspired me. Knowing you've still got the full backing of the manager is important.”

The 25-year-old also admitted that he feared he may not be the same player again following his injury, and whilst he began to target the final games of the season for his return, he could never have imagined the significance of the games he would feature in.

He added: “At the time I was worried. When it happened I could think of nothing but the pain - I just wanted it to go away.

“I waved as I was carried off. I raised my hand because my daughter's name, Domenica, is tattooed on it, and she was at the game. I wanted to show her and reassure her I was going to be OK. 

“Afterwards you start to think about the other players who have had that type of injury and they've never really got back to the level they were at before. You worry. But as time went on I thought I might make it back for the last couple of games when the league had been decided.

“To come back so soon and to be playing in decisive games from the word go, no, that's not something I thought would happen.”

The former Wigan Athletic man looks set to make the starting XI in Saturday's Champions League final against Barcelona, and whilst the decision as to whether Javier Hernandez will join him in the side is the only real point of contention ahead of the Wembley showpiece, Valencia is just glad to see Wayne Rooney, who said this week that he likes playing alongside the Ecuador international, in the team.

“I say the same about Wayne,” he added. “I look for his name on the sheet as well. He is a very bright, intelligent, gifted player, and it is nice to play with him.”

The winger also commented on his predecessor at Old Trafford, Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting that he is happy to keep his head down and do his work rather than focus on living up to the standards of the Portuguese international.

“I was aware of all the talk of Ronaldo when I came here, but I just go about my business and playing games as I do,” he said. “I'm very happy with what I've achieved, but my part is just a small thing in the mix.”

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