Manchester United have a long, proud record of producing quality young players and giving them opportunities in the first team.
The Red Devils have produced some outstanding footballers over the decades including Bobby Charlton, George Best, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
In December 2019, United reached their 4000th consecutive game of including at least one youth graduate in their match-day squads – a remarkable run spanning all the way back to 1937.
In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of Marcus Rashford, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood handed opportunities to cement their status as first-team regulars.
All three of these players are winners of United’s Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award. However, winning that individual accolade doesn’t always guarantee a career at the highest level…
Let’s see what happened to every winner of the aforementioned award since 2005…
2004-05: Giuseppe Rossi
Competition for a place upfront was fierce during the mid-2000s, but Giuseppe Rossi still managed to make 14 first-team appearances for United, scoring four goals in the process.
A brilliant natural finisher, the Italy international went on to star at Villarreal before a couple of serious knee injuries in 2011 and 2011 sadly disrupted his career.
Now 33, Rossi is currently on the books of Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake.
2005-06: Darron Gibson
Another player who broke into United’s first team, Darron Gibson played 60 times for the English giants and netted 10 goals – including a few long-range screamers.
The Irishman spent five years at Everton before joining Sunderland in 2017 – but, unfortunately, his career has fallen off a cliff since then.
Gibson left Sunderland under a cloud after receiving a two-year community order for drink-driving and then joined Wigan before being released after just one year.
The 32-year-old is currently plying his trade with Salford City in League Two.
2006-07: Craig Cathcart
Craig Cathcart only made one appearance for Man Utd before he was offloaded to Blackpool in 2010.
The centre-back, who turned 31 in February, has enjoyed a decent career since leaving Old Trafford.
He joined Watford in 2014 and has played 143 games for the Premier League side, plus a further 46 matches for the Northern Ireland national team.
2007-08: Danny Welbeck
Many United fans were disappointed to see Danny Welbeck leave Old Trafford for Arsenal in 2014.
A local lad who was popular with fans and his teammates alike, the decision to sell ‘Welbz’ doesn’t look so bad now.
Injuries have sadly prevented Welbeck from becoming a top-class striker for club and country. He made 126 appearances for Arsenal but only scored 32 goals.
The 29-year-old is now at Watford but, at the time of writing, has only bagged one goal in 11 games for the Hornets.
2008-09: Federico Macheda
Federico Macheda will always occupy a special place in the hearts of United fans thanks to his famous winner against Aston Villa in 2009.
Little did he know back then that it would be the standout moment of his entire career.
Macheda has spent the past couple of seasons with Greek side Panathinaikos and actually boasts a pretty decent record: 24 goals in 53 games.
2009-10: Will Keane
Man Utd had high hopes for Will Keane but the former England Under-21 is another player whose career has been disrupted by a couple of serious injuries.
The striker has played for the likes of QPR, Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City in recent years and is currently on the books of League One outfit Ipswich Town.
2010-11: Ryan Tunnicliffe
Ryan Tunnicliffe made two appearances for United during the 2012-13 campaign – Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at Old Trafford – but the midfielder wasn’t quite good enough for an elite club.
He spent a few years with Fulham before joining Millwall in 2017. The former England Under-17 international then moved on to Luton Town in 2019.
2011-12: Mats Moller Daehli
Not a name that too many United fans will be overly familiar with, Mats Moller Daehli never made a first-team appearance for the Red Devils.
The Norway international joined Cardiff in 2014, linking up with Solskjaer, before moving to Germany to play for Freiburg and then St Pauli.
Now 25, Daehli currently plies his trade for Belgian side Genk.
2012-13: Ben Pearson
After falling to break into Man Utd’s first team, Ben Pearson moved to Preston North End in 2016 following a loan spell with Barnsley.
The midfielder, who turned 25 in January, has made over 100 appearances for the Championship club.
2013-14: James Wilson
Like Will Keane, Man Utd coaches had high hopes for the talented James Wilson.
He scored four goals in 20 games for the Red Devils before going out on loan to Brighton in 2015, where he netted five goals in 27 appearances.
Wilson then moved to Derby on loan but managed just four appearances before a serious knee injury left him sidelined for months.
He joined Aberdeen permanently in 2019 but, after failing to make an impact in Scotland, now plays for Salford alongside the aforementioned Gibson.
2014-15: Axel Tuanzebe
Back at Man Utd following two loan spells with Aston Villa, Axel Tuanzebe will be aiming to cement his status as a first-team regular when football resumes.
The 22-year-old was born in DR Congo but has represented England at Under-19, 20 and 21 level.
2015-16: Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford experienced a meteoric rise to stardom after scoring two goals on his United debut against Midtjylland in February 2016.
Now a regular for club and country, Rashford has scored 64 goals in 201 games for the Red Devils – and he’s still only 22!
United’s No. 10 is a class act who will only improve further over the coming years.
2016-17: Angel Gomes
A hugely talented attacking winger, Angel Gomes’s senior career hasn’t really taken off yet.
The England Under-20 international, who was described as the club’s next star by Nani in January 2015, has played 10 games for United’s first team but is yet to prove that he should be starting week-in, week-out.
2017-18: Tahith Chong
Another big talent, Tahith Chong has played 15 games for United’s first team but has looked a little raw so far.
The 20-year-old was expected to leave Old Trafford for one of the big Italian clubs this summer, but United recently managed to tie the Netherlands Under-21 international down to a new two-year contract.
2018-19: Mason Greenwood
Mason Greenwood looks the real deal. The 18-year-old has already bagged 12 goals in 40 games for the Red Devils.
The England Under-21 international plays like Robin van Persie and clearly has an extremely bright future ahead of him.
United fans will be desperately hoping that he goes on to fulfil his huge potential, unlike a few others on this list who weren’t able to.
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