Carrick relishes unique Champions League 'buzz'
Michael Carrick has admitted the tingle of anticipation he gets from the Champions League is something no other competition can match.
Carrick flies out to France today with his Manchester United team-mates for a testing last-16 clash with Marseille.
The 1993 winners may only have just returned to prominence in their native land under former Chelsea midfielder Didier Deschamps, but they represent a significant examination of United's credentials.
And, after Tottenham and Arsenal both achieved superb results last week, the pressure is on Alex Ferguson's men to follow suit and justify their status as fourth favourites in the competition.
"The buzz you get with the Champions League is something that no other competition brings," said the England midfielder.
United will be coming across an old boy in Gabriel Heinze, who spent three seasons at Old Trafford before an acrimonious departure in 2007, when the Red Devils refused to allow the Argentina full-back to join Liverpool.
Heinze eventually left for Real Madrid instead, moving on to Marseille two years later, since then he has become a key member of their defence.
Whether the 32-year-old can contain former team-mate Wayne Rooney is another matter.
Rooney might have done little during his second-half performance in Saturday's narrow FA Cup win over Crawley, but seven days previously he had scored what has been hailed as one of the best goals Old Trafford has ever seen.
Carrick was staggered by the manner in which Rooney took his chance.
"I felt shock and surprise because it was completely out of the blue," said the 29-year-old.
"But at the same time there was pure elation. I was standing on the touchline about to come on and thought of doing a (Jose) Mourinho down the line.
"Straight away you knew you'd witnessed something special.
"It's an instinctive thing. The ball was delivered in the right way for the overhead kick and was the perfect height for him to get up there and volley it.
"But it's one thing seeing it, quite another being able to do it.
"The power and direction he got behind it were incredible."