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David Beckham and the No.7 shirt are two things that just go – like bread and butter or milk and tea – yet, had Alex Ferguson had his way the former England captain may have never ended up with it.
According to Roy Keane, former boss Ferguson wanted him to have it instead of Beckham, who had previously worn the 24, 15 and 28 jerseys.
The number was vacant after Eric Cantona had left the club. The midfielder had already taken up the captaincy as a result of the Frenchman’s exit, but wasn’t interested in having his number too.
In Keane’s 2015 autobiography, The Second Half , he revealed: "The captaincy is important but squad numbers can have an importance, too. At United, 7 was the iconic number.
"When Eric Cantona left there was debate about who was going to be the next captain. I was quite relaxed about it. But there was his number, too – seven.
"Bryan Robson had had it before Cantona and, of course, it went back to Georgie Best.
"The manager pulled me into his office and said that he wanted me to wear the ‘7’.
"I said, ‘No, I’m not bothered.’
"And he said, "I know Becks will f**kin’ want it and I don’t want him to have it".
"The little power battles.
"I’d had 16 since I’d signed for the club. I was comfortable with 16. I think it might have kept me on my toes, being outside the 1 to 11. I didn’t think I was a No.7. I said, "Give it to Becks".
"Becks got it, and it suited him – and Cantona. Ronaldo had it after Becks."
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