Man United: What happened to their brightest youth stars that never made the cut?


The Manchester United youth ranks have a reputation for producing world class footballing talent.

The celebrated ‘Class of 92’ immediately springs to mind – a group of world beaters that played a massive role in turning United into a European powerhouse for nearly two decades.

Marcus Rashford is another sensational product of the United youth ranks, while Mason Greenwood is showing all the right signs in the early years of his Old Trafford career.

However, while their history is littered with academy success stories, there is that select group of stars that blazed so brightly initially, only to fizzle out into obscurity.

So, while we know what became of the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the above-mentioned Rashford, what happened to the wonderkids who looked on the brink of setting the Premier League alight, but just never kicked on?

Mads Timm

Timm’s United journey is a quirky tale.

Having impressed in the academy, Timm was very nearly sacked by Sir Alex Ferguson after being slapped with a one-year sentence to a young offenders institute fro reckless driving.


In 2009, the Dane retired at just 25 years of age after returning to his homeland and losing interest the game.

Federico Macheda

The true ‘what could have been’ superstar.

Macheda exploded onto the scene in 2008/09 when his stunning turn and finish against Aston Villa effectively killed off a heated title race with Liverpool.

Sadly, that was as good as it would get for the Italian as he struggled to nail down a first team spot.


Spells at Sampdoria, QPR, Stuttgart, Doncaster, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Nottingham Forest all failed to kick him back into gear.

However, Macheda, now 29, seems to have found his home at Greek side Panathinaikos, netting 33 times in 89 league appearances for the club.

Dong Fangzhou

Dong Fangzhou’s story is a real cautionary tale.

One of the brightest prospects to ever emerge out of China, Fangzhou was signed by United in 2004. He was initially forced to ply his trade in Belgium as he awaited an English work permit but, once it was approved, it all fell apart.


The language barrier proved to be a significant stumbling block while his acute and crippling shyness meant that he could never truly embed.

His contract was terminated in 2008 and he returned to China, where he recently appeared on a reality TV show as he received plastic surgery to his overweight face following years of heavy partying.

Rodrigo Possebon

To be fair to Possebon, his failure to make the cut at United wasn’t entirely his fault.

His potential-laden career was nearly ended by an awful challenge in an FA Cup tie against Middlesborough and, even though he recovered, he was never able to quite reach his pre-injury heights.


He was last seen kicking a ball in Vietnam, but his contract with Ho Chi Minh City was terminated after a thoroughly underwhelming spell.

Angelo Henriquez

Henriquez was snapped up by United as 15-year-old for a whopping-great fee of £4 million.

He remained in his homeland of Chile for the next few seasons before arriving to much fanfare in 2012.

For one reason or another, he just never quite kicked on and, following loan spells at Wigan and Real Zaragoza, Henriquez was signed by Dinamo Zagreb.

The goals dried up, however, and he now finds himself back in Chile.

David Bellion

Bellion was snatched from Sunderland when United became aware of his blistering speed – he won the 60m sprint at the 2001 National Indoor Youth Championships.


Sadly, that simply didn’t translate on the pitch and Bellion ended up back in France after multiple loan spells.

Strangely, he is now somewhat of a football fashion mogul, advising current stars on their style while also serving as the creative director at Red Star Belgrade.

Ben Thornley


Thornley, touted as the most talented member of the ‘Class of 92’, had his career blown apart by an excruciating knee injury.

He was never the same player in the years that followed and he would eventually call time on his playing days after spells in the lower echelons of the English game.

He now works as a commentator for MUTV and recently released a superb autobiography.

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