Jonny Evans intends to collect another winner’s medal at Wembley tomorrow – but he will not feel really satisfied until he is lifting a trophy as captain.
Evans has always been regarded as one of the brightest home-grown Manchester United prospects.
At 22, the Northern Ireland international has already sailed past 50 first-team appearances for the Old Trafford outfit, picked up a Premier League title and a Carling Cup winner’s medal, as well as sitting on the bench during last season’s Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in Rome.
It is anticipated he will be rewarded for helping out in a crisis by being named in Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting line-up to face Aston Villa.
So far, so good then. But the man who drives his girlfriend Kate Wathall to distraction because of his lack of forward planning has one major goal. One day he wants to wear the captain’s armband himself.
“My girlfriend absolutely hates it because I don’t plan anything,” laughed Evans, before turning deadly serious.
“But there are goals in my life that I have set since I was a youngster and being captain of Manchester United is one of them.
“It is something I dream of being and I will give my all to get to that level because if I didn’t make it I would feel I let myself down.”
Ferguson would doubtless approve of Evans’ raising his own personal achievement bar so high.
Yet there is evidence to suggest the Belfast-born youngster is capable of realising such lofty aims.
Quite apart from his enormous talent, Evans has demonstrated that he is not fazed by attention after he became embroiled in allegations that arose out of an ill-advised club Christmas party which were subsequently proved to be unfounded.
It is a curious situation. In Manchester, the city he has made home along with both parents and brother Corry, who is making his own way in the United academy, Evans, whilst recognisable, does not command the attention of more illustrious team-mates.
Back in Belfast, where the desperation for a hero grows annually, it is an entirely different story.
“A lot of kids in Northern Ireland look up to me,” he said.
“I would look up to someone who played for Manchester United if I was a young kid now.
“I don’t think I would ever get bothered because that is the nature of the place.
“But they are crying out for people they can look up to. David Healy, for instance, is idolised.
“For a small country we have produced outstanding talent and it would be nice to get to that level where people feel like that about me.”
Having done documentaries about his background for BBC Northern Ireland, Evans understands a little of what Wayne Rooney has to go through on a daily basis.
As one of the best players in the world, Evans knows Rooney is rarely left alone.
“It is so strange for me,” said Evans.
“I have only got to know him over the last year or two but I can see the profile on his life is amazing.
“He is obviously a brilliant footballer, who earns lots of money and scores goals every week.
“But he is also constantly followed. It is surreal and quite hard to understand how someone can deal with that from such a young age.”
Evans will partner either Nemanja Vidic or Wes Brown at the heart of United’s back four, as he has done for most of the season.
Not that he buys into the argument that the fitness problems which have affected Vidic and Rio Ferdinand for so much of the campaign are automatically good news for him.
Experience comes in many forms, and after below-par displays against AC Milan and Everton recently, this most articulate of footballers was in total agreement with Ferguson’s decision to leave him on the bench for Tuesday’s victory over West Ham.
“You can’t wait for other people to tell you what is wrong with your game,” he said.
“I didn’t have to criticise myself after Milan or Everton. I know those performances were not up to scratch.”
So there you are. Intelligent, self-deprecating, talented, considered. A captain in the making.
In fact, there is only one small reminder of Evans’ callowness.
Look at the pictures of United celebrating last year’s Carling Cup. A smiling Belfast boy is in the lot.
“Usually the keeper goes second but Ben Foster is so superstitious. He had to go third,” he laughed.
“The officials were trying to persuade him to go up the steps second when we collected the trophy but he was having none of it.
“While all this was going on I nipped into the number two position to make sure I was on TV when Rio lifted the trophy.
“It was my first big trophy and I wanted to make sure I was on all the footage. It worked. I am always there.”