Giuseppe Rossi is back with the Manchester United family and looking to make up for lost time as the free agent steps up his search for a new club.
Raised in the United States and reared in United’s academy, the Italy international is back in the north west sharpening his finishing and fitness after a period punctuated by injury problems.
Rossi came through the club’s fabled youth system and became one of the continent’s brightest strikers, leaving Old Trafford for Villarreal in 2007 before a string of serious knee injuries threw things off kilter – setbacks that have failed to dim his hunger and positivity.
A free agent since leaving Genoa in the summer, the 31-year-old last week hotfooted it from his New Jersey base to Carrington as soon as the invitation came in from former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to train with United’s first team and aid his search for a new home.
“This just shows you how much of a family Manchester United is,” Rossi told Press Association Sport. “They have always taken care of their players.
“It’s a real privilege to have this opportunity and be given this opportunity. It feels really good.
“When I heard about this opportunity it just brought so much joy.
“It’s great to be playing with these exceptional players that I’ve been training with. It’s helping me stay fit and stay sharp because if you’re not sharp they’ll definitely be on you.
“I make sure that I’m doing the best I can to better myself but also to help the team do the right things in training.”
Rossi felt like a giddy teenager again when strolling back into Carrington, but this is not just a walk down memory lane. This is a chance to prove himself at a crucial stage of his career.
“I just love this game,” said Rossi, who is fit and free from the cloud of a potential doping ban.
“I sacrificed so much in these years, I’ve had many highs, I’ve had a few lows with these injuries that have taken a lot away from me but I never stopped.
“I always want to keep trying to achieve, keep trying to achieve, keep trying to get better and I just love this game so much that nothing’s ever going to take me away from it.
“It’s a part of me and I want to keep fighting and keep doing what I have to do in order to be where I want to be.”
Injuries have taken their toll and Rossi admits he sometimes wondered why he was still ploughing on.
His family have always provided him with the drive forwards and the striker feels ready to return to the rigours of club football – and appears to be holding his own in training, where his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been along to watch.
“I had breakfast with him at Carrington the other day,” Rossi said of Ferguson – a man he believes is “the best manager who ever lived”.
“We were talking and talking and he still remembers the transfer fee when I got sold.
“Just think about it: it was 11 years ago and in that 11-year span there have been hundreds of transfer fees and he still remembered my transfer fee when I went to Villarreal.
“It’s great to see him in high spirits and great to see him just being about here on the football field.”
Ferguson is the ideal mentor for fan favourite turned caretaker boss Solskjaer, who Rossi has a unique view on as the only person to have played with the Norwegian at United and be coached by him.
“It’s not an easy task to come to Manchester United, taking over in such a very critical part of the season and he’s been doing amazing,” Rossi said.
“He brought back the Manchester United way, he brought back the tranquility that maybe this environment needed.
“You’ve just got to tip your hat off to him and his coaching staff that have done just an amazing job.”
The long-term future is unclear for Solskjaer, just as it is for Rossi. Open-minded about his next destination, he is enjoying the moment with United and knows where he wants to be a year from now.
“Happy,” Rossi said. “A lot of things have been taken away from me as a football player due to these injuries.
“I’ve always come back strong, I’ve always been able to get back at certain levels but in years from now, I just want to say that I’m happy.”
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