The Dutchman’s £40.3million move to the Theatre of Dreams was announced on Wednesday, with Van de Beek becoming Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first signing of the summer.
The 23-year-old wore the no.6 shirt in Amsterdam but he was keen to take the no.34 shirt in tribute to his former Ajax teammate and close friend Abdelhak ‘Appie’ Nouri, who was in a coma for nearly three years after collapsing during a game against Werder Bremen in 2017.
Nouri wore the no.34 shirt for Ajax and Van de Beek was keen on wearing the shirt at Old Trafford, after earning his dream move to Manchester United.
In a confirmation piece after the Dutchman’s arrival, United confirmed Henderson had ‘kindly’ accepted Van de Beek’s request to take the shirt and the goalkeeper will be allocated a new number.
‘This is a special thing for me because my good friend Abdelhak Nouri… maybe you know the story,’ said Van de Beek.
‘He had a heart attack and he’s a good friend of mine, and I’m really close with his family and his brother is one of my best friends, and I talk a lot with them. So I decided to take his old number on my shirt. I want to get good memories with this number’
‘When I’m sad, I pull back. I’ve never had the need for a psychologist, because I my friends and family are enough for me. They are always there for me and they listen to me when I need it. I’ve learned who is always there for me.
‘Appie was a super happy kid, that wasn’t focused on himself, but mostly on the people around him. He was good for others, a great player and a great person. When he got older he visited prisons to get young people on the right path and point them to their opportunities.
‘I still wonder why it had to happen to him. Obviously I don’t want things like that to happen to anybody, but it seems it always hits the good people. ‘Appie always wanted the best for everybody and he absolutely did not deserve this. It makes me feel powerless and angry.’