Rio hails 'phenomenal' Pique
Pique made 23 first-team appearances in a four-year stay at United, having moved to England as a raw teenager. However, he never looked like becoming a regular in Sir Alex Ferguson's starting line-up and most people imagined Pique would only be a back-up when he returned 'home' to Barcelona in 2008. Instead, Pique quickly established himself as a key component in Pep Guardiola's defence, helping the Catalans to an unprecedented Treble in his debut campaign, including a Champions League final victory over his old club in Rome. Twelve months after that, Pique was conquering even greater heights as a member of the Spain team that won the World Cup in South Africa. Whilst Ferdinand always felt the 24-year-old had ability, it has shocked him how much his former team-mate has flourished at the Nou Camp. "Gerard has been phenomenal," said the England star. "From sitting on the bench at United to winning the Champions League, La Liga and the World Cup. If you had told him that was going to happen he wouldn't have believed you. "Everyone knew how good a player he was. He had so many qualities. "Maybe he wasn't suited to the Premier League. But Spain suits him down to the ground." Ferdinand has the opportunity of revenge for that Rome nightmare when United head into the rematch at Wembley on May 28. Darren Fletcher took another step towards his involvement with a reserve team outing on Wednesday. Fletcher is viewed as a key weapon, having missed out two years ago through suspension, his absence viewed as a contributing factor to an awful night. "I have never watched 2009 again," he said. "But matches like that are hard to forget. It is clear in your head. "If you want to sit and think about games like that they come up quite easily. It is like bringing something up on the internet. "I have re-run it in my head a few times and we just never played. We weren't Manchester United. "On the way back we were sitting there thinking if only we had gone out and been the real Manchester United, it would have been different. "They always say you don't want to come off the pitch with any regrets. There were regrets that night. "This time we will give a better account of ourselves."