Juan Lives the Dream
Updated Friday, 30th July 2010
This weekend former Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron will finalise a dream when he plays at Bramall Lane.
Sheffield United face South American club Estudiantes in a pre-season friendly in S2 this Sunday before the season's opener at Cardiff City on 8 August.
In March 2003 the Argentine midfielder confessed in an interview with national newspaper 'The Observer' that he would love to play for Sheffield United; all because his uncle (Pedro Verde) once wore the famous Red and White strip.
Veron played in England from 2001 to 2005 and to our knowledge never once had the opportunity to play at Bramall Lane as a professional player. He may not be getting the opportunity to live his dream as such by playing for the Blades; but I'm sure that just taking to the pitch would be enough for any eager fan.
Below is the said interview which was published in the paper.
In the interview, Juan revealed that ex-Blades striker Pedro Verde, who played at Bramall Lane between 1978-1981 is in fact his uncle.
"As far as I'm aware, no one has ever known about this,' Veron told OSM, 'but my uncle Pedro played for Sheffield United. He used to play with my dad at Estudiantes and through my dad got to know my mum, and her sister. And eventually he and mum's sister got married. My uncle and aunt then spent two years living in Sheffield. So there I was hoping to play for Sheffield United and here I am at Manchester United!"
Verde was brought to Bramall Lane by Harry Haslam along with Alex Sabella (who was later snapped up by Leeds United), it was fair to say that Sabella was obviously bought for his talents while Pedro was signed just to give Sabella some company. As part of the deal United were to play South American giants River Plate in England but Verde was left out of the game.
While Pedro was in Sheffield he played just ten times (3 as sub) in the famous red and white shirt and scoring three goals, this in just three years. In the summer of 1981 Verde's contract was cancelled and we went back to Argentina, along with, people believe the Yorkshire and Humberside (local competition) club which United had won that year.
Peter Garrett (Commercial Manager for the 'Hallam FM Academy @ Sheffield United') reflected on the day United signed the pair; 'It was like the fans were getting their own bit of World Cup fever,' he says. 'There was a massive furore at the club because teams weren't really signing foreign players in those days. Also you never just bought the one over, you always got two. Most fans thought that Verde was only brought over to be a mate for Sabella - because it certainly wasn't for his football skills! I remember him being particularly lightweight.
'You've got to remember they both came over at a difficult time for the club - we got relegated from the Second to the Fourth Division within a couple of years in the early Eighties. Also there is something quite unpoetic about a player as fabulous as Sabella - who would have looked like a world beater in any other team - playing without shin pads with his socks rolled down on a shit pitch at Halifax having some bloody great Yorkshire centre-half kicking the crap out of him.
'But my abiding memory of Pedro was the prank he pulled before he left. The Yorkshire and Humberside Cup - or whatever it was called then - was a local competition that both United and Wednesday used to enter. Often they both made the final and would play in front of crowds of 50,000. Anyway, Verde's claim to fame from his time here is that after winning the Cup he nicked the bloody trophy! People at the club are pretty sure that when he buggered off back to Argentina he took it with him because it's never been seen since.'
Maybe if Haslam returned with the players he wanted then it's quite possible that United could still be playing Premier League football. Haslam wanted Sabella at the start and signed him for a cool £150,000 but Harry saw another player he desired. The player was a young 16 year old who would have cost another £350,000 but the Blades board declaimed as he was probably too young, the player in question was a certain Diego Maradona