Football: Beckham urges Depay to take inspiration from No. 7 shirt to recharge career

David Beckham urged Manchester United's Memphis Depay (pictured) to use the club's famous No. 7 shirt as inspiration.
David Beckham urged Manchester United's Memphis Depay (pictured) to use the club's famous No. 7 shirt as inspiration. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - David Beckham has urged Manchester United winger Memphis Depay to use the club's famous No. 7 shirt as an inspiration to kickstart his floundering Red Devils career when he comes back into the team against Watford on Saturday.

Memphis joined United from PSV Eindhoven in the close season as the Dutch league's top scorer with 22 goals. He was handed the shirt worn by some of United's most revered players, including George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Beckham himself.

The Dutch international made a promising start at Old Trafford with 13 appearances in a row but his performances deteriorated and he was substituted at half-time during the 3-0 defeat by Arsenal in the Premier League on Oct 4.

Manager Louis van Gaal subsequently dropped him and Memphis has not started a league game since.

However, an injury to Anthony Martial, who left Wembley on crutches after taking a knock during England's friendly international against France on Tuesday, means Memphis is likely to start on Saturday.

The Dutch international is not the only United player to struggle with the pressure of wearing the fabled number.

His team-mate Antonio Valencia returned to No. 25 after struggling for form wearing seven, while other high-profile names such as Angel di Maria and Michael Owen have also failed to do the shirt justice while at the club.

Yet, former England captain Beckham denies there is extra pressure linked with the shirt and urged Memphis to embrace the number and look to the likes of Robson and Cantona for inspiration.

"I don't see it as an intimidation, I see it as an honour," Beckham was quoted as saying by the British media. "At the end of the day, it is a special shirt to wear but I don't think personally that it comes with any pressure. It always was an inspiration for me.

"It was never my shirt. It was George Best's, Bryan Robson's, Eric Cantona's.

"The only reason I wanted to wear the No. 7 shirt was because of these players."