As Raphael Varane rises from his plush pillow in his London hotel room this morning, the nerves will start to kick in. For a player who has won the Champions League four times and the World Cup, the Carabao Cup final could be considered a Sunday stroll. But for United’s ‘soldier’ ​​at the back, the butterflies will still be there.

“When it’s special, like a final, you feel different from the moment you get up in the morning,” he said. “You feel the atmosphere change. But that gives you energy, because it’s natural that when you’re afraid you run faster.”

Varane has been in fast forward for a decade. His first big honor came at age 19 when he won La Liga with Real Madrid, and there have been 20 major medals in a decorated career.

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So a Carabao Cup might not hold pride of place in his trophy room, but it’s more about the journey than the destination for the 29-year-old. He left Madrid a serial winner 18 months ago, trading the guarantee of more medals for the challenge of helping revive a club that had forgotten what it took to win over and over and over again.

If United can beat Newcastle at Wembley today, it will be their first trophy in six years. It’s his first Wembley final in five years and the occasion has a sense of renewal. It seems that Erik ten Hag has put the club back on track and that this date under the goal is just a springboard to even greater glory.

The Premier League drought will reach a decade this season and United failed to qualify for the Champions League last season, but suddenly everything seems possible again and Varane intends to enjoy the ride, having experienced the demands of fight alone to stay on top during his 10 years at Real.

“Honestly, it’s better when you’re going up,” he said. When you are at the top, the only thing that can change is to disappoint. You can’t do any better because you’re already there. When you can grow with the club and the team, it’s a great feeling.


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