All good things have to come to an end.
Wesley Sneijder wasn’t just good, he was great. So great, in fact, that Jose Mourinho described him, along with Deco, as the ‘perfect no.10’.
Which is why, in the summer of 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson moved mountains to bring the man with sledgehammers for feet and the football IQ of a neurosurgeon to Old Trafford.
Three years earlier, Man City welcomed Carlos Tevez with the infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ sign.
Fergie got his own back by ensuring there was a ‘Welcome to Dutchester’ banner adorned across Old Trafford as Man United announced the triple signing of Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Alexander Buttner.
The Dutch were here, although no sooner had Buttner arrived than he was sent off to the reserves to see out his days with Dong Fangzhuo, Federico Macheda and Chris Eagles.
It didn’t take Sneijder long to settle into life alongside Michael Carrick in United’s midfield.
There was a trademark howitzer on debut against Everton, a ludicrous assist against Sunderland which involved nutmegging Titus Bramble twice with the same pass and a free-kick double scored with both feet against a hapless Rob Green and QPR.
Sneijder’s first season at the club was a stroll, with the Dutchman being selected for the Premier League Team of the Season as United picked up an unprecedented 20th league title.
Fergie’s retirement at the end of the campaign saw David Moyes brought into the fold as manager.
Any panic over Moyes’ ability to carry out the role was dispersed with the signings of Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas and Nicolas Gaitan.
The ‘Magic Diamond’, as United’s midfield quartet would come to be known, helped Moyes’ side become the first side in Premier League history to rack up more than 90% possession in a game.
Sneijder was glorious in United’s run to Champions League and Premier League glory, although he was pipped by team-mate Phil Jagielka in the end of season awards.
Jagielka’s marshalling of Lionel Messi in the Champions League final will go down as one of the best European performances of all time, with the Argentine describing it as ‘an honour’ to spend 90 minutes in the defender’s pocket.
After two seasons Sneijder was off, lured by the riches of the Indonesian Super League, but he’d been instrumental in laying the foundations that now see Moyes heralded as the leading coach in world football.
His haul of two Premier League trophies, an FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League medal in just two blistering seasons ensure his name is weaved into United folklore as the second best Wes ever to play for the club.
Thanks for the memories, Wes. You’ll never be forgotten.
READ DREAM TEAM’S HISTORY LESSONS SERIES:
- Who actually scored the £1billion goal that changed the Premier League forever?
- How Jose Mourinho’s ‘most beautiful defeat’ shaped modern football
- The 0-0 draw that birthed a generation-defining reign of international football