“Big, bad” Wesley Brown today left Manchester United to join Sunderland after a 19 year association with the club. Once described by Sir Alex Ferguson as the “best natural defender at the club” his chances were initially limited because of a serious injury that kept him out of the entire 1999/2000 campaign. Upon his return from injury, Brown established himself in the back line alongside Jaap Stam and Mikael Silvestre. When Stam left the club, he frequently partnered Laurent Blanc – whose experience aided Brown’s development, and previously frequent lapses in concentration all but disappeared.
When Rio Ferdinand joined the club Wes initially partnered him before another serious injury that saw him miss the first half of the 2003/04 season. He returned to great effect and turned in a man-of-the-match display against “invincible” *chortle* Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-final. Nemanja Vidic’s arrival saw Wes appear more and more at right-back and it was in this position that the Longsight-born Brown gave his best season in a red shirt.
Brown was integral to United’s League and European Cup double in 2008; it was his pin-point cross that assisted Cristiano Ronaldo’s opening goal in the Champions League Final. Indeed, United might not have even been there were it not for Brown’s heroic display in the Semi-final second-leg against Barcelona.
First injury, then a falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson saw Brown’s chances limited in his final three seasons, but United fans will always be grateful to the hard-as-nails local lad who lived the dream.
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