What happened to winners of prestigious Man United award?

Darron Gibson stands alongside Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Marcus Rashford as previous winners of Man United’s prestigious Jimmy Murphy Award… but what happened to every player to claim the accolade?

  • Gibson was this week released by League Two Salford after just four games
  • It continued a dramatic decline for the Republic of Ireland midfielder
  • He was once regarded as a bright prospect in the Manchester United academy
  • Gibson even won the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Award in 2005-06 season
  • Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Marcus Rashford are all former winners of prize 

Darron Gibson was released by League Two club Salford City this week after playing just four matches. 

It was the latest setback for a player who was once tipped as the next big thing at Manchester United and who once won the club’s prestigious Jimmy Murphy Award for the most promising academy player.  

Jimmy Murphy, who was born and raised in the Rhondda Valley in the heart of south Wales, is a figure held in immense esteem at Old Trafford. 

Darron Gibson has been released by League Two Salford City after the season was finished

The Irish midfielder played for Manchester United on 60 occasions earlier in his career

Following the Munich air disaster on February 6, 1958, Murphy temporarily took charge of the club until the end of the season with manager Sir Matt Busby laid up in hospital recovering. He, somewhat miraculously, steered a patchwork team to the FA Cup final that year. 

He had not been on the flight as he was managing Wales against Israel in Cardiff, a game they won to ensure their qualification for the 1958 World Cup – the last time they did so.

Murphy was brought on board after Busby witnessed him give a band of troops a stirring speech about football during the Second World War.

Jimmy Murphy (centre) is one of Manchester United’s most celebrated icons and the club still awards a prize named in his honour for the best academy player each season

He is credited with bringing through some of United’s best players, like Sir Bobby Charlton (R)

The Welshman was, in fact, Busby’s first signing upon taking the job in 1945. He initially trained up the young players, budding stars including the likes of Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton, and progressed to become assistant manager – a post he kept until 1971.

For some years after he worked for the club as a scout, before passing away in 1989, aged 79. A blue plaque is on display in his hometown of Pentre.

In his honour, United commissioned the ‘Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year Award’, to be given to the best player in the club’s youth system in the previous season.

And aptly, the latest winner, the striker Mason Greenwood, has since made quite the impact in the United first team. 

Here, Sportsmail looks at all the winners of the award, what they went on to achieve and where they are now… 

A plaque hangs in his hometown, Pentre, in the heart of south Wales in the Rhondda Valley

1989-90 – Lee Martin


1988–1994 Manchester United

1994–1996 Celtic

1996–1998 Bristol Rovers

1997 → Huddersfield Town (loan)

1998–1999 Glossop North End

2005–2006 Bangor City

2006–2008 NEWI Cefn Druids


FA Cup

UEFA Super Cup

The winner of the inaugural Jimmy Murphy Award was Lee Martin. It was, in fact, at United where the left back had his greatest success.

He made his breakthrough in the senior side in 1989-90, following Arthur Albiston’s departure, but found chances difficult to come by thereafter with Clayton Blackmore and Denis Irwin coming into the fray.

He scored twice in 73 league appearances for the club, lifting the FA Cup in 1990 and UEFA Super Cup in 1991, before leaving for Celtic in 1994. Martin went on to play for Bristol Rovers, Glossop North End, Bangor and NEWI Cefn Druids.

He retired in 2008 and moved into a very different line of work. He currently helps young people to gain qualifications, access college and obtain apprenticeships or employment in Cheshire.

He also occasionally works for MUTV. 

The winner of the inaugural Jimmy Murphy Award was Lee Martin, who played at left back

1990-91 and 1991-92 – Ryan Giggs


1987–1990 Manchester United


Wales (64 caps)


2014 Manchester United 

2018- Wales


Premier League: 13

FA Cup: 4

Football League Cup: 3

FA Community Shield: 9

UEFA Champions League: 2

UEFA Super Cup

Intercontinental Cup

FIFA Club World Cup

A bona fide superstar of the United academy system, Ryan Giggs claimed the award twice in as many years.

He was tipped to go on to great things by Sir Alex Ferguson and he certainly did that.

Giggs joined the club on his 14th birthday in 1987 and instantly shone in the academy ranks. His Class of 92 peers often speak of how daunted they were by the prospect of raising their game to Giggs’ level.

Exactly three years later he was handed his first professional contract. In March 1991, he made his first-team league debut against Everton and impressed. 

He endeared himself to United fans, however, in his first league start – scoring in a 1-0 win over arch rivals Manchester City.

The Welshman spent the ensuing 23 years smashing records and bagging trophy after trophy before becoming assistant manager under David Moyes.

Ryan Giggs was a bona fide superstar of the United academy and players aspired to be like him

Giggs claimed 34 trophies at Old Trafford and is one of the club’s all-time greats

He took charge of the club for four games following Moyes’ dismissal in 2014.

He then became assistant manager to Louis van Gaal the following season, a post which he held until the Dutchman’s dismissal in 2016. 

Giggs made an easy transition into punditry before taking up the role as Wales manager at the beginning of 2018, successfully steering them to Euro 2020. 

The former winger has since moved into management and is now in charge of Wales

1992-93 – Paul Scholes


1993–2013 Manchester United


2019 Oldham Athletic 


1997-2004 England (66 caps)


Premier League: 11

FA Cup: 3

Football League Cup: 2 

FA Community Shield: 5

UEFA Champions League: 2

Intercontinental Cup

FIFA Club World Cup 

This was unquestionably a golden era for Manchester United, their academy churning out future superstars like they were going out of fashion.

Paul Scholes showcased all the attacking ability in United’s youth ranks which would later propel him to become one of the finest midfielders of his generation.

Back then, the diminutive Scholes played a little further advanced to what we have all become accustomed, often starting as a striker.

He reached the FA Youth Cup final in 1992-93, having not been part of the team which won it the year before, and was lauded for his performances in the competition.

He would not break through to the senior team until the 1994-95 season and became a regular fixture the following year after Paul Ince left for Inter Milan and Mark Hughes moved to Chelsea.

Paul Scholes started his career at United as a striker and broke through in the 1994-95 season

He settled into the midfield a couple of seasons later and stayed there for the rest of his time at Manchester United, retiring in 2013.

In February 2011, Barcelona icon Xavi said of Scholes: ‘[He is] a role model. For me, and I really mean this, he’s the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years. 

‘He’s spectacular, he has it all, the last pass, goals, he’s strong, he doesn’t lose the ball, vision. If he’d been Spanish he might have been rated more highly. Players love him.’

That talent recognised by the Jimmy Murphy Award was definitely realised, then. 

Since his retirement, he has helped in the youth coaching department at Old Trafford but is now more commonly seen on the TV as a pundit. 

He is a co-owner at Salford along with his Class of 92 colleagues and had a brief, ill-fated stint as Oldham’s manager last year.

Scholes was another key cog in United’s wheel during a period which was laden with trophies

1993-94 – Phil Neville


1994–2005 Manchester United

2005–2013 Everton


1996-2007 England (59 caps) 


2018- England Women 


Premier League: 6

FA Cup: 3

FA Community Shield: 3

UEFA Champions League

Intercontinental Cup 

The last of the Class of 92. Phil Neville, younger brother of Gary, was another beacon in the academy ranks at United.

Steely, dependable and diligent, Neville would often play and train with players much his senior while making his way at Old Trafford.

He was two years younger than the likes of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and, of course, his brother Gary, but his talent often meant he was playing alongside them – even at youth level.

He broke into the first-team fray in the 1994-95 season but, like many of his Class of 92 contemporaries, would get a better run in the side the following year.

Ferguson admired Neville’s flexibility and his role as a utility man helped plug gaps all across the back four or in central midfield.

Phil Neville, the younger brother of Gary, was another beacon in the academy ranks at United

Sir Alex Ferguson liked Neville’s flexibility and he became a utility man for over a decade

In 2005, he moved to Everton and enjoyed a hugely successful eight-year stint at Goodison Park, taking over the captaincy in 2007. 

He also attained 59 England caps between 1996-2007.

Following his retirement from playing in 2013, Neville transitioned into punditry. He also coached England’s youth teams and was a first-team assistant at United under Moyes.

He took up the role as manager of England Women in 2018 and guided them to a fourth place finish at the World Cup in France last year. 

In 2005, he moved to Everton and enjoyed a successful eight-year stint at Goodison Park

In 2018, Neville took up the role as manager of the England Women’s team

1994-95 – Terry Cooke


1994–1999 Manchester United

1996 → Sunderland (loan)

1996 → Birmingham City (loan)

1998–1999 → Wrexham (loan) 

1999 → Manchester City (loan)

1999–2002 Manchester City

2000 → Wigan Athletic (loan)

2000 → Sheff Wednesday (loan)

2000–2001 → Sheff Wednesday (loan)

2002 → Grimsby Town (loan)

2002–2003 Grimsby Town 

2003–2004 Sheffield Wednesday

2005–2009 Colorado Rapids

2009–2010 North Queensland Fury

2010–2011 Gabala

Terry Cooke’s greatest moment in a Manchester United shirt came as a youth player.

The midfielder scored the penalty which clinched the FA Youth Cup in 1995, but appeared in only eight first-team matches for the club in a five-year stint.

During his time as a senior player he was farmed out on loan to four different clubs, the last of which was rivals Manchester City, whom he joined permanently in 1999.

He spent the majority of his stint at City out on loan too, however, playing for Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday and Grimsby before joining the latter on a permanent basis.

He had his most stable period at Colorado Rapids in the MLS, making 106 league appearances in four years at the club. 

Cooke’s nomadic career ended in Azerbaijan with Gabala. 

He has since moved into coaching and is now youth team coach of the Denver Kickers in Colorado. 

Given his hugely successful predecessors, Cooke’s career was more miss than hit.

Terry Cooke scored the penalty which clinched the FA Youth Cup in 1995

1995-96 – Ronnie Wallwork


1995–2002 Manchester United

1997–1998 → Carlisle United (loan)

1998 → Stockport County (loan) 

1999 → Royal Antwerp (loan)

2002–2008 West Bromwich Albion

2004 → Bradford City (loan)

2004 → Bradford City (loan)

2006 → Barnsley (loan) 

2007 → Huddersfield Town (loan)

2008 Sheffield Wednesday 

Utility man Ronnie Wallwork was part of the FA Youth Cup-winning side of 1995, the same year he turned professional.

He didn’t make his senior debut, however, until 1997 and was never a regular fixture in Ferguson’s side.

The following seasons he had loan spells at Carlisle, Stockport and Royal Antwerp. 

During his spell at the Belgian club, Wallwork grabbed referee Amand Ancion by the throat following a match, for which he was banned from football for life.

His sentence was later reduced, however, to just three years and the final 12 months of the suspension applied only in Belgium.

He returned to United and started to progress slowly in the 1990-2000 season and accrued enough appearances the following season to win a Premier League winners’ medal.

He moved to West Brom in 2002 and played 93 league games in six years at the club.

Following his retirement from football, he started to run a clothes business, D&R Designers, in Failsworth, Greater Manchester. 

Ronnie Wallwork was in 1995 FA Youth Cup-winning side but was never a first-team regular

He moved to West Brom in 2002 and played 93 league games in six years at the club

1996-97 – John Curtis


1997–2000 Manchester United 

1999–2000 → Barnsley (loan) 

2000–2003 Blackburn Rovers

2003 → Sheffield United (loan) 

2003–2004 Leicester City 

2004–2005 Portsmouth 

2004 → Preston North End (loan) 

2005–2007 Nottingham Forest

2007 Queens Park Rangers

2009 Worcester City 

2009 Wrexham 

2009–2010 Northampton Town 

2010–2011 Gold Coast United


Football League Cup 

Another member of United’s FA Youth Cup-winning side of 1995, John Curtis was tipped to achieve great things at Old Trafford.

Curtis was a defender who could be deployed all across the back four and his versatility made him an asset rising through the system.

Upon turning professional in 1997, however, he struggled for regular first-team football.

After just 14 league appearances in two years, Curtis agreed to head out on loan to Barnsley in November 1999 – he would sign for Blackburn for £1.5million the next season and helped them achieve promotion to the Premier League.

He endured underwhelming stints at both Leicester and Portsmouth before finding some joy as first-choice right back at Nottingham Forest in 2005.

But after Forest failed to win promotion to the Championship in 2007 Curtis rejected a new contract, which prompted the club to announce they would not offer more favourable terms.

He left Forest in the summer of 2007 and spent his twilight years in the lower leagues before a swansong season out in Australia with Gold Coast United, where he announced his retirement in 2011. 

Curtis is now a UEFA A licence holder and works in the US, helping players in youth football. He has also worked as a youth coach at Northampton, an Italian scout for West Brom and technical director of Everton America in Connecticut.

John Curtis made just 14 league appearances for Manchester United between 1997-2000

The defender (L) joined Blackburn and helped them win the League Cup final in 2002

1997-98 and 1998-99 – Wes Brown


1996–2011 Manchester United

2011–2016 Sunderland

2016–2017 Blackburn Rovers

2017–2018 Kerala Blasters


1999-2010 England (23 caps)


Premier League: 5

FA Cup: 2

Football League Cup: 2 

FA Community Shield: 2

UEFA Champions League 2 

Another success story of the Jimmy Murphy Award.

Wes Brown had a long and illustrious career at United, which coincided with one of the most successful periods of the club’s history.

He joined the academy aged 12 and was thought of highly in the club’s youth system. He and Giggs are the only two players to have won the accolade twice.

Brown turned professional in 1996 and by the time the club’s treble-winning season came about two years later, he was a fully-fledged first-team squad member.

That season — 1998-99 — the right back was used as an alternative to Gary Neville, given they were fighting for both domestic and European honours. 

He also gained his first England cap that season.

Wes Brown is one of only two players to have won the Jimmy Murphy Award twice

In the treble-winning season of 1998-99 came about, he was a fully-fledged first-team plater

Brown grew to become a dependable defender, not only on the right side but also as a centre-back option.

The player’s best years, just after the turn of the century, in fact came at centre back, but his consistency was marred by an unfortunate string of injuries.

Following Nemanja Vidic’s signing, Brown saw fewer opportunities for a regular starting spot, but was often first-choice stand-in were either Vidic or Rio Ferdinand absent.

After 232 league appearances for the club in a hugely successful 15-year senior career, he moved to Sunderland.

He enjoyed a further five seasons in the north-east before heading back west to join Blackburn in 2016-17.

He linked up with former Manchester United assistant coach Rene Meulensteen in 2017 at Kerala Blasters in India. 

After 232 league appearances, he moved to Sunderland, Blackburn and then Kerala Blaster

1999-2000 – Bojan Djordjic


1996–1999 Brommapojkarna

1999–2005 Manchester United 

2001–2002 → Sheffield Wednesday (loan)

2002–2003 → AGF (loan) 

2003–2004 → Red Star Belgrade (loan)

2005 Rangers   

2005–2007 Plymouth Argyle

2008–2010 AIK 

2010–2011 Videoton

2010–2011 → Videoton II 

2011–2012 Blackpool 

2012 Royal Antwerp

2012–2013 Brommapojkarna

2014 Vasalund

2014–2015 Chennaiyin 


First League of Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro Cup


Svenska Cupen


Nemzeti Bajnoksag 

United signed Bojan Djordjic from little-known Swedish club Brommapojkarna in 1999 at the age of 18.

His bright performances for the youth team, however, did not transition into the senior side.

He made just two league appearances in six years at the club, having been farmed out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, AGF in Denmark and Red Star Belgrade. 

Djordjic earlier this year revealed when he came back from his loan at Red Star, Ferguson made him shave his head the night before going on tour with the senior team to the US.

The winger made John O’Shea give him a haircut at 11pm on the night before the tour, believing it was his chance to impress the boss.

Alas, it made little difference. He signed with Rangers on a free transfer in 2005, which began a decade-long nomadic period for the Swede.

He played for nine clubs between the years of 2005 and 2015 before hanging up his boots.

Bojan has since admitted he probably didn’t live up to his billing, having garnered a reputation as United’s latest ‘up-and-coming star’ – he even labels himself a ‘Championship Manager legend’ in his Twitter bio.

He started life after football by managing Rinkeby United in the 6th tier of Swedish football.

Djordjic has also worked as a pundit on MUTV and wasn’t afraid to put the boot into the club’s transfer policies.  

Manchester United signed Bojan Djordjic in 1999 and he was hotly tipped to become a star

But it didn’t work out for him at Old Trafford and he eventually joined Rangers in 2005

2000-01 – Alan Tate


2000–2004 Manchester United

2001–2002 → Royal Antwerp (loan)

2002–2003 → Swansea City (loan)

2003 → Swansea City (loan)

2004–2015 Swansea City

2012–2013 → Leeds United (loan) 

2013 → Yeovil Town (loan) 

2014 → Aberdeen (loan) 

2014–2015 → Crewe Alexandra (loan)

2015–2016 Port Talbot Town 


Football League Cup

Championship play-offs

Football League One: 2007–08

Football League Trophy: 2005–06

FAW Premier Cup: 2004–05, 2005–06


Scottish League Cup: 2013–14

Alan Tate started as a trainee at Manchester United and earned a professional contract in 2000.

The defender was seen as a reliable member of the squad and was eventually handed the captaincy of United’s reserve team.

However, he soon found himself seeking first-team opportunities in a bid to show Ferguson he had what it takes to make it at Old Trafford.

He was initially shipped out to Antwerp for the 2001-02 season before finding more joy at Swansea the following campaign. 

He was a vital cog in the Swans team which battled against being relegated out of the football league in the 2002-03 season.

Tate was an instant hit in south Wales and returned the following summer, this time on a permanent deal after being deemed surplus to requirements at United.

He spent 11 years at Swansea — he spent the last few seasons out on loan — and is unquestionably considered a club legend.

He is now studying for his pro coaching licence on the staff at Swansea – the top badge which allows a person to coach in the Champions League.

This summer he revealed former United boss Ferguson has helped him to study for his licence, offering insight into the world of elite coaching.

Tate is currently the assistant first-team coach to Swansea City manager Steve Cooper.  

Alan Tate was as reliable as they come in the youth ranks and captained the reserve team

He moved to Swansea and became a club legend, helping them win Premier League promotion

2001-02 – Paul Tierney


2000–2005 Manchester United 

2002–2003 → Crewe Alexandra (loan)

2004 → Colchester United (loan)

2004–2005 → Bradford City (loan) 

2005–2006 Livingston 

2006–2008 Blackpool 

2007–2008 → Stockport County (loan)

2008–2009 Altrincham


League One play-off final winner

Paul Tierney’s career at the highest level peaked with the Jimmy Murphy Award.

The left back signed for United as a trainee in 1999 and penned his professional contract with the club just a year later.

The Salford-born Irishman was once earmarked to be Ian Harte’s successor in the national team – but his career nosedived, sharply.

His one and only Manchester United appearance came against West Brom in the League Cup in 2003. 

Tierney endured a torrid evening against the Baggies, who defeated United at The Hawthorns, and never donned the United shirt again.

He signed permanently for Livingston in 2005 before going on to play for Blackpool, Stockport and Altrincham before retiring in 2009.

He went on to play amateur football, including for Prestwich Heys in Manchester. 

Tierney now works as a council tax team leader for Salford City Council. 

Paul Tierney’s only United appearance came against West Brom in the League Cup in 2003

He joined a succession of lower league clubs, including a two-year stint at Blackpool

2002-03 – Ben Collett


2002–2006 Manchester United

2006 New Zealand Knights

2006–2007 AGOVV Apeldoorn 

Ben Collett’s performances for United during the 2002-03 season, in which the club beat Middlesbrough in the final of the FA Youth Cup, earned him much praise.

The midfielder scored in the first leg of the final, setting them up to win the coveted youth team prize.

Collett’s career prospects lookedd rosy. He had just won the FA Youth Cup and was considered the best young player at arguably the biggest club in the world.

Just a week later, however, he came crashing down to earth.

Ben Collett appeared to have it all made for him at United before a career-threatening injury

He never fully recovered from it and move to play for the now-defunct New Zealand Knights

In a reserve team game against Boro once again, he broke his leg in two places owing to a tackle from Gary Smith.

He never truly recovered from the horrific injury. He had a stint at the now-defunct New Zealand Knights in 2006 before a final season at Dutch club AGOVV Apeldoorn before retiring in 2007. 

He pursued legal action against Smith and in 2008 was awarded £4.3m in compensation.

The judge said: ‘During his 11 years at Manchester United, he had impressed players and staff at all levels, from Sir Alex Ferguson and Mr Gary Neville to the contemporaries who played alongside him.’ 

He pursued legal action against Middlesbrough’s Gary Smith for the tackle and got £4.3m

2003-04 – Jonathan Spector


2003–2006 Manchester United

2005–2006 → Charlton Athletic (loan)

2006–2011 West Ham United

2011–2017 Birmingham City 

2017–2018 Orlando City

2019 Hibernian 


2004-2015 USA (36 caps) 



Jonathan Spector was spotted at the 2003 Milk Cup while playing for the USA Under-17s side.

Despite being from the states, Spector had a European passport courtesy of his German-born mother – which allowed him to be signed up without a work permit.

The defender joined United in the summer of 2003 at the age of 17 and impressed in the youth ranks – which then prompted Ferguson to hand him his first senior appearance in the Community Shield match against Arsenal in 2004.

The USA international was, however, always on the periphery of the United first team and found chances to shine increasingly scarce.

Jonathan Spector joined United in the summer of 2003 at the age of 17 and impressed

He moved to West Ham, however, in 2006 and found more regular first-team football

He found greater success at West Ham, where he found a more regular spot in the side than he had previously had at Old Trafford.

He enjoyed five years in east London before heading up to the Midlands to join Birmingham in 2011, where he became a regular fixture in the side.

Spector moved back to his native USA in 2017 to play for Orlando City for a season and then briefly had a stint at Hibernian. 

He has since been employed in a recruitment role for MLS club Atlanta United.

He also had joy with Birmingham, enjoying a further six years before heading back Stateside

Spector last year moved back to his native USA in 2017 to play for Orlando City

2004-05 – Giuseppe Rossi


2004–2007 Manchester United

2006 → Newcastle United (loan)

2007 → Parma (loan)

2007–2013 Villarreal 

2013–2017 Fiorentina 

2016 → Levante (loan)

2016–2017 → Celta (loan) 

2017–2018 Genoa

2020- Real Salt Lake 


2008-14 Italy (30 caps) 

Giuseppe Rossi was brought up in New Jersey, but his footballing talents were quickly spotted in Europe.

Italian club Parma recruited him for their youth ranks when he was just 12, but it wasn’t long before United’s interests were piqued.

Rossi was earmarked to go on and do great things at United, having started so brightly at the club after moving there aged 17.

He scored on his Premier League debut in the October of that year  and scored twice the following January in a League Cup replay against Burton.

United went on to win the competition and Nemanja Vidic gave Rossi his medal to acknowledge his contribution in the earlier rounds. 

Guiseppe Rossi was earmarked to go on and do great things at United after joining at age 17

But his found chances difficult to come by, having to compete with some big names at the club

The following season, United had the striking options of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Louis Saha, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Alan Smith – with Henrik Larsson also joining for a mid-season loan spell.

Rossi was sent out on loan to Newcastle for the first half of the season before returning to Parma on loan for the second half.

The following season United brought in Carlos Tevez, which ultimately spelt the end of Rossi’s time at United and he was bought by La Liga club Villarreal.

His spell at Villarreal was hugely successful, scoring 54 goals in 136 league games in a six-year spell there.

He moved to Fiorentina for four seasons in 2013 before heading to Genoa this summer. 

This month it was confirmed he avoided a doping ban following his positive test for the banned substance dorzolamide. 

Rossi resurfaced in the MLS with Real Salt Lake this year. 

His moved to Villarreal and had great success, scoring 54 goals in 136 league games

2005-06 – Darron Gibson


2005–2012 Manchester United 

2006–2007 → Royal Antwerp (loan)

2007–2008 → Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan) 

2012–2017 Everton

2017–2018 Sunderland 

2018–2019 Wigan Athletic

2020 Salford City 


2007- Republic of Ireland (27 caps)


Premier League

Football League Cup 2

FIFA Club World Cup

Nations Cup 

Darron Gibson was brought to Old Trafford in 2004. In the 2005-06 season he played almost exclusively for United’s reserve team, helping them to win the treble.

After winning the Jimmy Murphy Award, he was flown out to South Africa for the pre-season tour with the senior squad.

He continued to toil away in the reserve team and didn’t manage to make his Premier League debut until November 2008.

Gibson was regularly included in the side by Ferguson for the next few seasons and scored some crucial goals for the club, developing a knack for converting from long range.

His starting place was never guaranteed, however, and he made only two appearances in the 2011-12 season, which proved the catalyst for his Old Trafford exit.

He spent five seasons at Everton from 2012 before moving to Sunderland for a season in 2017-18.

While there he was suspended by the club for drink-driving and filmed by fans saying Sunderland were ‘f***ing s***’ and blasting his team-mates for not caring about the club during a heated pub argument.  

He played for Championship club Wigan before being reunited with former United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes at Salford. 

However, Gibson played just four times for the League Two club before being named among 11 players released when the division ended early amid the Covid-19 crisis.  

Darron Gibson helped United’s youth team win the treble back in the 2005-06 season

The combative midfielder then joined Everton in 2012 and spent five seasons there 

Following five years at Goodison Park, Gibson joined Championship club Wigan this summer

2006-07 – Craig Cathcart


2007–2010 Manchester United 

2007 → Royal Antwerp (loan) 

2008–2009 → Plymouth Argyle 

2009 → Watford (loan)

2010–2014 Blackpool 

2014– Watford 


2010- Northern Ireland (46 caps)

Craig Cathcart is another who is well acquainted with the United loan system. He had a stellar year with the youth team in 2006-07, during which he penned a professional contract, making his debut the following March – but was immediately sent out on loan at the end of the season.

The defender was sent to Plymouth and Watford on loan in the following seasons before eventually deciding to leave the club having made no senior appearances.

Cathcart spent four years at Blackpool, becoming the mainstay of their defence, before moving to his former club Watford in 2014.

He was an integral part of the squad which earned promotion to the Premier League and remains a regular fixture in Nigel Pearson’s side.

The Northern Ireland international has 38 caps to his name.

Craig Cathcart was highly thought of in United’s youth system and often captained the teams

Cathcart spent four years at Blackpool, becoming the mainstay of their defence

He moved to Watford in 2014 and remains a regular fixture in the Hornets side

2007-08 – Danny Welbeck


2008–2014 Manchester United 

2010 → Preston North End (loan)

2010–2011 → Sunderland (loan)

2014–2019 Arsenal

2019- Watford 


2011- England (42 caps)


Premier League

Football League Cup

FA Community Shield 3

FIFA Club World Cup 

FA Cup

Danny Welbeck was on United’s radar from as early as six years old. He was eventually picked up by United’s academy a few years later and signed for the club during the 2005-06 season.

He then put pen to paper on a trainee contract in 2007-08 and his stock rose greatly. Ferguson saw enough in the youngster to promote him to the first-team squad, which was laden with attacking talent.

The following season he enjoyed more regular first-team action, notably making his Champions League debut, however he was unable to break through as much as he would have liked – making just 11 appearances in all competitions.

He enjoyed loan spells at Preston and Sunderland in consecutive years and enjoyed his best season in a United shirt the season after – he scored 12 goals in 39 outings in all competitions in 2011-12.

Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring in the FA Youth Cup semi-final against Arsenal in 2007

He proved a valuable squad player at United, but wanted to be a certainty in the starting XI

Welbeck continued to prove a valuable squad player over the next two seasons, but with Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie in the fray, the England international was reduced to a role out on the wing.

He announced at the end of the 2013-14 season his desire to leave the club, citing that he wanted to go elsewhere to reignite his career as an out-and-out striker.

Arsenal came calling though his time at the Emirates has been blighted by injury — notably an eight-month lay-off with a knee problem in 2016 — this stunting his potential to kick on as he would have hoped.

Unable to break into the team under Unai Emery, Welbeck moved to Watford at the start of the current season. 

He also has 16 goals in 42 appearances for England. 

Arsenal came calling for him back in 2014 and he spent five seasons with the Gunners

Welbeck made the move from Arsenal to Watford at the beginning of the current season

2008-09 – Federico Macheda


2008–2014 Manchester United 

2011 → Sampdoria (loan)

2012 → Queens Park Rangers (loan)

2013 → VfB Stuttgart (loan) 

2013 → Doncaster Rovers (loan) 

2013–2014 → Doncaster Rovers (loan)

2014 → Birmingham City (loan) 

2014–2016 Cardiff City

2016 → Nottingham Forest (loan) 

2016–2018 Novara 

2018– Panathinaikos


Football League Cup 

Federico Macheda moved from his hometown club Lazio to Manchester United on his 16th birthday back in 2007.

He got out of the blocks like a bullet, scoring on his Under-18s debut against Barnsley and an excitement grew quickly.

He plied his trade for the youth team before moving up to play regular football for the reserves in 2008-09.

Towards the tail end of that season came Macheda’s crowning moment.

Ferguson threw him into the fold with his team 2-1 down against Aston Villa. Ronaldo got the game back level but it was the debutant who swivelled and bent one into the far corner to earn United the win and send the fans into raptures.

The very next Premier League game he was once again brought on in place of Dimitar Berbatov and the Italian scored once again — just 46 seconds after his introduction — when he turned home Michael Carrick’s strike.

Federico Macheda burst onto the scene by scoring the winner against Aston Villa in 2009

Macheda was named the Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year for his performances

Macheda was named the Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year for his performances for the Under-18s, reserves and, of course, his incredible start to life in the senior team. 

He penned a four-year extension the next season, but was badly hampered by injury. He was sent out on loan to Sampdoria the following campaign.

He would go on a further five loan spells before eventually opting to leave United and sign permanently with Cardiff, who had just been relegated from the Premier League, after being contacted by his former reserves manager Solskjaer. 

After two years in south Wales, he ventured to Novara in Italy’s Serie B before joining Greek outfit Panathinaikos in 2018.

He was subsequently sent out on loan many times, including to Doncaster Rovers in 2013

He permanently moved away from United in 2014 for Cardiff, he now plays for Panathinaikos

2009-10 – Will Keane


2011–2016 Manchester United 

2013 → Wigan Athletic (loan) 

2014 → Queens Park Rangers (loan) 10

2015 → Sheffield Wednesday (loan) 

2015 → Preston North End (loan) 

2016–2019 Hull City

2019- Ipswich Town 

Will Keane, and his twin brother Michael, rose together through the academy ranks. Will the attacker, Michael the defender.

In the 2009-10 season, Keane was a regular starter for the Under-18s side and netted 13 times in 26 games, including a hat-trick against City.

He kicked on again the next season, finishing the Under-18s’ top scorer with 16 – adding to his six for the reserve team. 

Another fruitful campaign the next year meant Ferguson felt ready to blood him in the senior ranks. 

William Keane, Joe Dudgeon and Paul Pogba celebrate winning the reserves play-off

Keane, again pictured with Pogba, kicked on in 2010-11 and made it into the first-team squad

He made his Premier League debut in December 2011, coming on as a substitute for right back Rafael as United pushed for victory against Blackburn – they eventually lost 3-2.

He was shipped out on loan to four Championship clubs in just three seasons to gain some much-needed first-team experience, but struggled to find form in front of goal.

Keane left Old Trafford in 2016 with just three senior appearances and no goals under his belt. He has since been with Hull and joined Ipswich Town last year. 

In 120 career games he has managed only 15 goals. 

Keane left Old Trafford in 2016 and has spent ensuing years plying his trade at Hull and Ipswich

2010-11 – Ryan Tunnicliffe


2009–2014 Manchester United

2011–2012 → Peterborough (loan)

2013 → Barnsley (loan)

2013–2014 → Ipswich Town (loan)

2014–2017 Fulham

2014 → Wigan Athletic (loan)

2014 → Blackburn Rovers (loan) 

2017 → Wigan Athletic (loan) 

2017–2019 Millwall 

2019- Luton Town 

The most touching part of Ryan Tunnicliffe’s Manchester United story takes place at his local side Roach Dynamos. 

His father, Mick, placed a £100 bet that the then nine-year old son would one day turn out for United at odds of 100-1.

And, in 2012, that bet came in and Mick netted £10,000 as a result. But, unfortunately for Tunnicliffe, that’s as good as his Old Trafford career got.

Having signed his professional contract in 2009, the midfielder toiled away to no avail while training with the first team.

Just two League Cup appearances and three loan spells later, Tunnicliffe sought a new challenge in London.

Ryan Tunicliffe receives the Jimmy Murphy Award from Brian McClair (L) and Paul McGuinness

His father won a 100-1 bet that Tunnicliffe would play for Manchester United’s first team

He was snapped up by Fulham and was reunited with former United coach Rene Meulensteen and enjoyed three seasons there.

Following Meulensteen’s sacking, however, he was deemed surplus to requirements and was forced out on loan to Wigan. At the start of the 2014 season he went to Blackburn on loan, during which he was fined £5,000 and ordered to take an educational course for calling Patrick Bamford a ‘sausage boy’ in a Twitter spat. 

He signed for Millwall in the 2017 on a two-year deal and has since joined Luton Town. 

He played in a talented United youth side including Jesse Lingard, Pogba and Ravel Morrison

He moved to Fulham in 2014 and then Millwall in 2017 (pictured). He is now with Luton Town

2011-12 – Mats Moller Daehli


2013–2014 Molde 

2014–2015 Cardiff City 

2015–2018 SC Freiburg II 

2015–2018 SC Freiburg 

2017–2018 → FC St. Pauli (loan) 

2018–2020 FC St. Pauli

2020- Genk 


2013- Norway (23 caps)


Norwegian Football Cup 

Mats Moller Daehli was discovered at 12 years old by United scout John Vik. Daehli duly jetted over from Oslo to Manchester and trained with the club – but he didn’t sign a contract until November 2010 and joined up with the academy the following February.

He moved up from the Under-18s to the reserve team and continued diligently, earning plaudits from coach Warren Joyce and Daehli quickly caught the eye of compatriot Solskjaer.

The former United striker was managing Molde and was keen to bring the creative midfielder back to Norway.

In July 2013, Daehli saw little scope for first-team opportunities and took up Solskjaer’s offer, penning a two-and-a-half year deal with the Norwegian top-flight club.

Mats Moller Daehli (R) of Manchester United is presented with the Jimmy Murphy Award

Daehli earned plaudits from Warren Joyce and quickly caught the eye of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

The player followed his manager back to these shores when Solskjaer took charge of newly-promoted Cardiff in the Premier League.

He played a season in the top flight and a season in the Championship before seeking another move away. He subsequently joined Freiburg in 2014.

Following a spell on loan at second-tier Bundesliga side FC St Pauli, he joined the club permanently at the start of the 2018-2019 season. He is now in Belgium with Genk. 

He joined up with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde (L) before following him to Cardiff (R)

After a loan spell at second-tier Bundesliga side FC St Pauli, he joined permanently in 2018

2012-13 – Ben Pearson


2014–2016 Manchester United

2015–2016 → Barnsley (loan)

2016– Preston North End 

Ben Pearson grew up in Oldham and it didn’t take long before he joined the United academy.

He was brought in as a nine-year old and made his Under-18s debut as young as 14 back in 2009.

The midfielder matured well in the youth ranks and started the 2012-13 season with two goals in the first two games of the Under-18s campaign. He continued to shine for the Under-18s and the Under-21s that season and was a regular fixture for the side over the next two years.

Ben Pearson earned high praise at United, winning the Jimmy Murphy Award in 2013

The midfielder shone for the Under-18s and the Under-21s that season and looked a prospect

Pearson went out on loan to Barnsley seeking first-team experience – and certainly got that. He made a big impression during his loan spell in the 2014-15 campaign and was hoping for that to be the catalyst to push him on at Old Trafford.

It wasn’t to be, however, and he joined Championship outfit Preston the following January. 

He has gone on to make 148 appearances for the club and remains a key cog in the Lilywhites’ midfield.

Pearson signed for Preston in 2016 and has since made 148 appearances for the Deepdale club

2013-14 – James Wilson


2014– Manchester United

2015–2016 → Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)

2016 → Derby County (loan)

2018 → Sheffield United (loan)

2018– → Aberdeen (loan)

2019-2020 Aberdeen

2020- Salford City 

James Wilson was scouted by Manchester United aged just seven and was a prolific striker throughout age-group football.

His progress was hampered in the 2011-12 season after he sustained a broken ankle which kept him sidelined for almost five months.

But his talent did not go unnoticed and the club handed him a deal to become an academy scholar in the summer of 2012.

In the 2013-14 season he was a prominent figure in the reserves team and his exploits were rewarded by David Moyes, who handed him a call-up to the senior squad in the April of that season. 

James Wilson celebrates scoring in an FA Youth Cup quarter-final against Charlton in 2012

The following season, he scored twice against Hull on his first senior outing for the club

He scored twice his first outing a month later when he started against Hull in the Premier League – this time under the stewardship of Ryan Giggs.

Wilson that summer penned at contract at United until 2019, but spent every season since out on loan. 

One loan spell at Aberdeen led to a permanent move to Pittodrie but he has since linked up with the Class of 92 at Salford. 

Wilson went north of the border to join Aberdeen following a loan spell with the Dons 

He signed for League Two Salford City back in January to link up with Class of 92 members

2014-15 – Axel Tuanzebe


2015– Manchester United

2018 → Aston Villa (loan)

2018– 2019→ Aston Villa (loan)


Europa League 2016-17

Championship play-offs (with Villa) 2018-19 

Axel Tuanzebe was another who was snapped up early by the Old Trafford club.

He joined at the age of eight and was quickly recognised as a player who had leadership qualities in the United youth ranks.

In 2014-15, he became the first first-year scholar to captain the Under-18 side since Gary Neville and his attitude and diligence was rewarded with a call-up to the senior squad the following season.

Axel Tuanzebe became the first first-year scholar to captain the Under-18s since Gary Neville

He made his first-team debut in January 2017 and extended his contract at United until 2020

He made his first-team debut in January 2017 and extended his contract at United until 2020 just four days later. 

The defender was used sparingly by Mourinho for the rest of the season and the start of the next and it was decided he should use the loan system to gain experience.

Tuanzebe, who can play centre back or right back, has since got plenty of games under his belt at Aston Villa in two separate loan spells.

Now back in the United squad under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Tuanzebe will hope to win the battle to become Harry Maguire’s regular central defensive partner.  

Tuanzebe, who can play centre back or right back, joined Aston Villa on loan for two spells

2015-16 – Marcus Rashford


2015– Manchester United 


2016- England (38 caps) 


FA Cup


FA Community Shield

UEFA Europa League 

Possibly the brightest young talent to come through United’s system in a generation, Marcus Rashford is tipped for great things at Old Trafford.

His call-up to the first-team starting lineup was fortuitous, for him at least, following Anthony Martial’s injury ahead of United’s Europa League tie against Midtjylland in February 2016.

Martial pulled out owing to an injury in the warm-up and Rashford got his shot. 

He scored twice in the second half before capping off a whirlwind week with two goals on his Premier League debut three days later – a 3-2 win over Arsenal.

Marcus Rashford is presented with the Jimmy Murphy Award by academy coach Nicky Butt

Rashford of United U19s in action during the UEFA Youth League against PSV U19s in 2015

His stunning effort against West Ham in the sixth-round replay of the FA Cup also sent United through to the semi-finals. 

The striker’s meteoric rise during an incredible season earned him a call-up to England’s Euro 2016 squad. He was certainly a worthy winner of the Jimmy Murphy Award that season.

He continues to be an integral part of the squad for both club and country and is widely touted as one of the hottest young prospects on the planet.

Rashford has scored 64 goals in 201 outings for United so far in his career and that included 19 this season before. back injury cut short his progress. 

Rashford has now become an integral part of both United and England’s first-team setup

2016-17 – Angel Gomes


2017– Manchester United 

Angel Gomes was brought into United’s youth ranks at just six years old.

His ability was always thought to be well beyond his years and was often named in the Under-18s squads while still a schoolboy – he made his first appearance aged just 14.

As an attacking midfielder, his skill and poise on the ball has excited those who saw his rise through the academy.

Angel Gomes  is presented with the Jimmy Murphy Award by U18s manager Kieran McKenna

He was a bright spark in the United academy system, known for his trickery and poise

He made his first-team debut for United on the last day of the 2016-17 season, replacing Wayne Rooney in the win over Crystal Palace. 

Gomes, then just 16 years and 263 days old, became the youngest player to turn out for United since Duncan Edwards in 1953.

The playmaker was also the first person born this millennium to play in the Premier League and has since made nine other first-team appearances.

Still just 18, he is the youngest-ever recipient of the Jimmy Murphy Award. 

His godfather is former United winger Nani.

The playmaker was also the first person born this millennium to play in the Premier League

2017-18 – Tahith Chong 

Eighteen-year-old Tahith Chong joined United from Feyenoord in the summer of 2016.

He started brightly for the Under-18s that season, but had his campaign curtailed after sustaining a nasty cruciate ligament injury in the January.

After coming back from injury at the start of last season, he began to show his talents once again.

Tahith Chong is presented with the Jimmy Murphy Award by McKenna in May 2018

Chong scored seven and assisted two in 17 outings for the youth and reserve teams and was the standout performer of the season – earning him the Jimmy Murphy accolade.

He was one of just a handful of academy players taken on the pre-season tour of the US.

Mourinho tipped him to make his senior debut this term after impressing on the Stateside tour. 

But it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who finally handed him his first appearance, in the FA Cup third round against Reading last season.

Chong has now played 15 times for United and will hope to feature in many more games.  

Debutant Tahith Chong runs at Reading’s defence during United’s FA Cup clash last season

2018-19 – Mason Greenwood

Last year the award went to striker Mason Greenwood and, judging by what we’ve seen of the youngster since, it comes as little wonder.

An excellent season for the reserves led to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handing Greenwood his senior debut in the crazy final moments of United’s dramatic Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain in March 2019.

He has kicked on impressively this season and earned many plaudits after scoring 12 times in 36 appearances.

Mason Greenwood won the Jimmy Murphy Award last season and has impressed ever since

Greenwood has scored 12 goals in 36 appearances for United so far this season

In scoring against Astana in the UEFA Europa League at 17 years and 353 days, Greenwood became United’s youngest ever goalscorer in Europe.

His first league goal came in a 3-3 draw with Sheffield United and he has since added to his tally at every opportunity.

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