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I'm grateful to Ole but will set that aside, says Pique

 

Good times: Gerard Pique has fond memories of United spell
Good times: Gerard Pique has fond memories of United spell

By Simon Peach

Gerard Pique is delighted to see ex-Manchester United team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer flourishing at Old Trafford - but the Barcelona defender is determined to kill off his former club's Champions League dreams.

Widely considered one of the greatest defenders in the world, the 31-year-old made his first steps in the professional game at United over a period that he remains eternally grateful for.

Pique joined from Barca aged 17 and went from a boy to a man at Old Trafford, learning a lot on the field and off it before returning to the La Liga giants in 2008.

Solskjaer was one of the senior pros as the centre-back came through the ranks and the Barca defender has been impressed by the work being done by someone he looked up to.

"I remember him as a great team-mate when I arrived," Pique said. "I was 17, very young and he was one of the veterans and, for sure, he helped me a lot to adapt to the club, to the country, to the city.

"He was at the end of his career and he had some problems with his injuries, but when you were training with him you could see he had that quality to score goals.

"It was a great experience playing alongside him. He helped me a lot and I'm very happy to see him now in charge of the club.

"He is doing a great job. They have won a lot of games, they are playing much better and tomorrow is going to be a tough game and I hope we can win."

Solskjaer recalled playing with Pique in the Premier Reserve League play-off final in 2006, when they scored a goal apiece as they beat Tottenham 2-0.

The United boss called the defender a "fantastic boy" and has enjoyed watching his progress.

But Pique's appreciation for United will be replaced by a steely resolve to hurt them.

The 31-year-old has been impressed by the never-say-die attitude brought back by Solskjaer, pointing to the way they made Champions League history by overcoming a 2-0 home loss to beat Paris St Germain 3-1 in the round of 16.

He added: "It's a great example for us, we have to be very concentrated. We know United are very dangerous and that we have to play our best game to qualify."

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