By Gabriel Tan
Valencia's affiliation with United started slightly over a year before that traumatic incident.
Having established a reputation as a lightning-quick winger in his three seasons with Wigan, many felt the time was ripe for the Ecuadorean to leave the DW Stadium and further his career.
He had already been on the books of Villarreal from 2005 to 2008, but was a raw talent back then, and only made two league appearances over three seasons at El Madrigal.
However, having honed his craft with the Latics in the most testing environment of them all - the Barclays Premier League, Valencia had served his apprenticeship and was ready to take the next step in his career.
Many clubs were interested in both him and his then-teammate Wilson Palacios. Both had played their parts in guiding Wigan to respectable league finishes in 2008 and 2009.
Having lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, United came knocking in the summer of 2009, and Valencia moved to Old Trafford.
Many fans were displeased with the signing of Valencia at the time. Not that he was not rated highly by the United faithful. But having just seen one of their favourite sons exit the club, the fans were eager to see Sir Alex Ferguson make a statement by bringing in an equally big name.
Ronaldo had lit up the United side with flair, skill, panache and a touch of arrogance.
Valencia brought none of these to the team. He was blindingly fast, and could probably give Ronaldo a run for his money in a 100-metre dash. He was good on the ball, without having a huge bag of tricks. And the Ecuadorian did not have an ounce of conceit in his game - being more of a foot soldier than a knight in shining armour.
Fast forward to the end of the season, and these 'drawbacks' that made United fans wonder if Valencia could replace Ronaldo, were the very qualities that made him a new Old Trafford favourite.
All year long, United fans were treated to the sight of Valencia bursting down the right wing, before whipping in a delectable cross right into the path of Wayne Rooney, who would finish with aplomb - 34 times that season.
The sight was expected to be a common occurrence once again in this campaign.
Then came September 14 last year. With United failing to find a way past a stubborn Rangers defence in their Champions League opener, Valencia decided to do what he did best.
He took the ball and darted down the right flank, and in one split-second, his season looked to be over.
No blame should be laid on Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot. It was a clean challenge, and the referee signalled for the game to carry on with a United throw-in.
Broadfoot's reaction, however, meant the game did not.
Having got back on his feet and walked past Valencia, the left-back stopped dead in his tracks upon seeing Valencia's awkwardly-angled leg and furiously signalled for the physios to come on.
As Valencia was eventually carried off the ground on a stretcher, he acknowledged the crowd who had given him a standing ovation.
With no disrespect intended, Valencia has since revealed it was not the supporters he was waving to, but his five-year-old daughter, Domenica.
"I wasn't signalling to the crowd with that gesture," Valencia told The Sun.
"I raised my hand because my daughter's name, Domenica, is tattooed on it and she was at the game, so I wanted to show her I was going to be okay.
"That's the reason I did it."
Despite the nightmare of it all, Valencia recalled his immediate reaction after seeing his leg lying limp on the ground.
"It was obviously a very sad night for me and at that moment, I could think of nothing but the pain. I just wanted it to go away.
"I remember just lying there waiting for the doctor to tell me what was going to happen.
"I didn't feel sick or dizzy because I was given oxygen straight away and then an injection. After that, the pain started to subside a little."
Following examination, it was revealed that Valencia's left ankle had been both broken and dislocated. His season was over. United's looked to be unravelling.
Nani had the skills. Park Ji-Sung had the tenacity and the big-game mentality. But none of United's wingers offered the same penetration that Valencia did.
Then came whispers that Valencia had made excellent progress in his recovery.
And then on February 28, 2011, Valencia officially returned to first-team training. Two weeks later, he walked onto the Old Trafford pitch to thunderous applause as he made his return against Arsenal in their FA Cup 6th round clash.
Valencia freely admits only one thing - or person - was behind his motivation to suceed in his comeback.
"My daughter. I was determined she would see me playing again, and I kept that thought in my mind all along."
Perhaps even more impressive than his speedy comeback is how seamlessly he has fit back into the United fold. His form has even relegated Nani to a reserve role at times, as seen in last Sunday's pivotal 2-1 win over Chelsea.
Valencia admits that even though he was out of the game for months, his mind was never truly switched off football.
"When I was injured, I would sit at home watching the matches and think, 'If I were in that position, I'd do this or that'.
"Now I'm back at nearly 100% and I'm happy to be involved in these big games."
Valencia's first season at Old Trafford was marked by a lack of silverware and he believes winning it this year would be the perfect way to conclude this chapter of his career.
"To lift the title for the first time would be the perfect way for me to cap my recovery from injury.
"It is something I have set my sights on."
Despite many lamenting the lack of quality this year, the 2010-11 Premier League season has been one of the most interesting and enjoyable for a long time.
So many stories that have captured our attentions.
You have fairytales that warm the heart. Javier Hernandez's stunning arrival at United. Liverpool's brilliant revival under Kenny Dalglish. Scott Parker winning the FWA Footballer of the Year award. Stoke making it all the way to the FA Cup final.
You have the tragedies that evoke sighs. Arsenal's trophy drought extending another year. Constant speculation over Carlo Ancelotti's future, despite a stunning fightback in the second half of the season. West Ham looking likely to end their six-year stay in the top flight.
And then, you have the story of Antonio Valencia and his left ankle. It made everyone sick with horror more than seven months ago. And now that he's back darting down the right flank, it makes many of us smile.
Fans jeer and abuse opposition players often, but you get the feeling if there's one player those fans would not begrudge a Premier League winner's medal to, that person would be Antonio Valencia.