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Barcelona at St George's Park: Gerard Pique remembers Burton Albion disappointment

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 01, 2014

ROLLING BACK THE YEARS ... current Barcelona star Gerard Pique pictured here playing for Manchester United and taking on Burton's Dale Anderson in the FA Cup tie at the Pirelli Stadium back in 2006.

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HE has won four La Liga titles, three Champions League crowns, the Premier League, the European Championships and the World Cup – not to mention the fact his partner is Shakira – but Gerard Pique has not forgotten his last visit to Burton.

Eight years ago, the now Barcelona and Spain superstar was a teenager at Manchester United when they were drawn away to Burton Albion in the third round of the 2006 FA Cup.

Pique played in both ties, with the Brewers forcing the English giants to a replay after a 0-0 draw at the Pirelli Stadium.

And that clash against Nigel Clough's braves has stuck in the 27-year-old defender's memory.

"It was a really tough night," he said.

"We came here with United and normally when you draw against a lower division side you expect an easy game.

"And it wasn't an easy game."

Pique went on to make just 23 appearances for United, but has pulled on a Barca jersey more than 250 times so far – and the famous Alex Ferguson hairdryer treatment the team received after they were unable to beat Saul Deeney et al has stayed with him for the last eight years.

"We drew 0-0 and Sir Alex wasn't happy – I remember that after the game," said Pique. "But it was a really good experience for me.

"It was one of my first experiences as a first-team player, and obviously you always remember – even if it wasn't a great night."

Another United star to play against the Brewers at the Pirelli was Wayne Rooney, and Pique – who currently counts Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar among his team-mates – listed the England striker among the top ten players in the world.

He was asked to name the best Englishman currently playing, and said – understandably given the country's recent poor performances: "That's a tough question.

"I think for me – and because I played with him – Wayne Rooney is the best English player now.

"And he would definitely be in the top ten. He's a top-quality striker and the main player for Manchester United.

"He could play in any team in the world he wanted to, but he wants to be in Manchester and playing for United."

Rooney's current boss at Old Trafford is Louis van Gaal, who was twice in charge at the Camp Nou.

"I was really young when he was at Barcelona, but he had a really good relationship with my grandfather (Amador Bernabeu, a former Barca vice-president)," said Pique.

"I saw him one day at my grandfather's house when I was 12 or 13, and he knew I was playing for Barcelona's youth team, so he pushed me to the floor and said to me 'you are not tough enough to be a centre-back'.

"He is a real disciplinarian and I think he will do well here."

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