After having to deal with such obvious demonstrations of disdain from the Manchester United faithful, for the last year of his career, it would have been easy to understand if there had been a show of defiance in his celebration.
But when the ball hit the back of the net for that crucial opening goal against Tottenham three weeks ago, Marouane Fellaini reminded us of the name on the back of his shirt before thumping the badge of Manchester United.
When foreign stars come to The Premier League, one of the best paid in the world, they are always suspected of having a mercenary edge. They have to prove themselves that much more than homegrown stars, because they are less likely to have supported their new club as a child.
But there is a definite sense that Fellaini and his family have a strong bond with this institution.
David Moyes wrote last year:
I remember his father, a former professional player and a huge influence on Marouane, being in tears at Carrington on the day we signed him. He was so proud his son was joining this great football club.
At the end of the day, our current empathy for the lad is largely based on his performances for United. It’s a ruthless, results based industry and Fellaini is most definitely aiding Manchester United’s results at this point.
But, performances aside, Fellaini is beginning to resemble a player who will bleed for this shirt – an athlete who wants to stay until he’s a spent force in his thirties, regardless of who comes in for him in the meantime. And, in truth, even when his five yard passes were going astray, there was never a time when he wasn’t leaving his last joule of energy on the football pitch.
In an era where football is so heavily motivated by finance, Manchester United can consider themselves fortunate to possess a Belgian player who apparently values the love and acceptance of the fans more as much as the zeroes on his pay cheque.
Let’s see Marouane thumping the badge like he means it.