One to turn inside the defender and another to send a curling shot sailing into the corner. They were two touches that made an instant hero of then 17-year-old Federico Macheda.

The Italian's winning goal for Manchester United against Aston Villa in April 2009 proved the turning point in the Red Devils' successful Premier League title campaign that year and may yet remain the crowning moment of Macheda’s career.

Catapulted to stardom


Playing for his local side Atletico Prenestino, he was spotted and snapped up by Roman giants SS Lazio, but due to restrictions on players under the age of 18 signing professional contracts, he was taken to Manchester United at the age of 16 and turned professional with the club on his 17 birthday in August 2008.

After his exploits against Villa and others, he was recognised as the best academy player at the club and it seemed the only way was up for the Roman native. Over the next four years, however, he received less playing time and his spell at Stuttgart is his third loan stint in as many seasons after temporary stints at UD Sampdoria and Queens Park Rangers.

A fresh start


After such a grand entrance to professional football, Macheda's progress has stalled somewhat. However, he arrives in Stuttgart with a two-fold ambition: to get back into the habit of playing, and scoring, on a regular basis and to fulfil his undoubted potential.

In recent years, Stuttgart have become famous for their traditional surge up the table in the second half of the season. Those could be the optimal conditions for Macheda to establish himself as one of Europe’s most promising strikers once more and even earn him an elusive debut for Italy at senior level.