Febian Brandy: Growing up at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson

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Imagine training with the likes of Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney, watching a young Cristiano Ronaldo perfecting his free-kick technique, and talking to Sir Alex Ferguson in the corridors of Carrington.

For every Manchester United fan, this would have been the stuff of dreams 10-15 years ago.

But for Febian Brandy, this was every day life.

The Manchester-born forward spent a total of 13 years with the Red Devils after being spotted as a youngster and, as you can probably imagine, has many fascinating anecdotes from his spell at Old Trafford.

Although he was unable to force his way into the United first team - he left the Premier League giants for Notts County in a permanent deal in 2011 - Brandy still looks back fondly on his time growing up at one of the world’s biggest football clubs.

Speaking exclusively to GIVEMESPORT, Brandy revealed that he had the opportunity to join Barcelona when he was a teenager after picking up a Player of the Tournament award over in Spain.

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However, he saw no reason to leave United for the Camp Nou and decided to stay put, which was music to Ferguson’s ears at the time.

“I went back into Carrington a week or two later and I was walking down the corridor,” Brandy explained. “Sir Alex went ‘Have you heard?’ I knew what he was going to say but I just played dumb and said ‘no’ and he said: ‘Barcelona are interested in you - what are your thoughts?’

“It was kind of a test. It was the same time that Barcelona and Man United were on the same level - Man Utd may even have been above them.

“I just said ‘I’m a Manchester lad. I’m Manchester born and bred. I want to stay here at the club that has looked after me.’ And he patted me on the head and said ‘Good answer’ and just walked off.”

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Brandy also tells a brilliant story involving Scholes - the player he says was on a “different level” to everyone else at the club - in training.

“There was a 11 v 11 - a mix of reserve and first-team players - I’ve got the ball and Scholesy’s nicked it off me,” he begins. “I’ve slid in to tackle him and I’ve clipped him and stood on his foot. He’s gone down injured and everybody is out there - the first team, Sir Alex, Mike Phelan - and as soon as he went down my heart was just pumping. In my mind I was thinking ‘Scholesy get up!’

“The physio has run over and my heart’s pumping, pumping and eventually Scholsey’s got up. He was like ‘don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it’.

“The whole session just stopped. I think it was five days before a game, but luckily he was OK.

“He got his treatment, carried on, then I’ve got the ball and Scholsey’s come in and swiped me and cleaned me out on the back of my Achilles or my calf. I’m holding it and looking up, thinking ‘is everyone going to stop?’. Everyone just carried on! I was thinking where’s my treatment! I was just hobbling around.”

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However, Brandy and everyone else saw the funny side.

“Because it’s such a family-orientated club, it’s something we all laughed about afterwards,” he added. “I got stick for it in the reserve team dressing room. All the lads were like ‘Fabs, I saw you sweating!’. It was good times.”

But if you were of the impression that youngsters at Old Trafford felt intimidated by the club’s superstars, you’d be mistaken.

Brandy continued: “Because the first teamers and staff were so good with the young ones coming through, you didn’t really feel intimidated. You looked up to them instead.

“If we were doing a shooting drill, we’d get someone like Wayne Rooney or Ruud van Nistelrooy come over, watch us and join in with us and it would give us a buzz.

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“If we finished training and one of the first team saw us shooting off, they’d be like: ‘Why are you not going to the gym? Have you got somewhere better to be?”

It was this fierce work ethic that filtered through to the youth team and helped create a host of professional footballers, such as Brandy, who went on to play for various clubs in the Football League and abroad.

Watching how hard a supremely talented footballer like Ronaldo used to work inspired him and his fellow youngsters.

“When you see Ronaldo scoring his free-kicks left, right and centre, he was the first one in and the last one out,” Brandy revealed. “Practising his free-kicks, practising his free-kicks. That’s not something that’s happened overnight.”

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Brandy was also one of the first players to be coached by United’s current interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - and, like everybody else, the 30-year-old only has positive things to say about the Norwegian.

“He was my reserve team manager for a couple of years. I went from Brian McClair to Warren Joyce and Ole. But Ole is a top, top guy, down to earth. He’ll literally talk to anyone. You’ve seen what he’s done with the United team now. He’s just got something about him where he can get the best out of players and he was someone who did get the best out of me.

“Because he’s a legendary striker, sometimes I would do something that wasn’t good for me. For example, I would probably take too many touches in the box and then try and get a shot off.

“Ole would see this and he would say ‘Fabs, the positions you get in, you just need to control it and then shoot’. He told me a few times and I found myself taking a touch and then shooting and it going through the players’ legs because that was something he was big on. So he could see traits in players that the player couldn’t even see themselves.”

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For Brandy, these are unforgettable memories that he’ll cherish forever.

He isn’t done with football just yet - he hopes to sign for a new club in time for the 2019-20 campaign - but is currently devoting his time to an exciting new app called Skouted.

You can read more about Brandy’s Skouted app HERE.

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