Man United's Class of 2011 were named ‘the next Busby Babes’ - but where are they now?

Man Utd

Most Manchester United fans will know the significance of the date October 30, 1937.

That’s the date on which an incredible run started – a run that has seen at least one academy graduate in every match day.

Okay, the club may not be in the best state right now but it’s admirable that no matter what situation they find themselves in, Man Utd will always look towards giving youth a chance to shine.



In Monday’s FA Cup victory over Aston Villa, United had Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood in the starting XI. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Anthony Elanga came off the bench.

Despite that, the club hasn’t been able to replicate the ‘Class of 92’ where the likes of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, and Paul Scholes all graduated into the first team.

They haven’t won the FA Youth Cup since 2011 but there was hope the ‘Class of 2011’ could follow in the footsteps of that group of players 19 years before them.

After winning the final 6-3 against Sheffield United, the Independent published an article with the headline: ‘United’s class of 2011 could be the next Busby Babes’.

They looked at five players who they felt were destined for big careers.

Eleven years on, we’ve looked at the careers of those five players – as well as the rest of the squad.

Man Utd’s ‘Class of 2001’ – Where are they now?

Man Utd FA Youth Cup 2011

Tom Thorpe

What the Independent said: “As a central defender, this young Mancunian is more Rio Ferdinand than Nemanja Vidic – his qualities are elegance and composure on the ball.”

Thorpe – the captain back in 2011 did make his Man Utd debut under Louis van Gaal in September 2014 but didn’t play for the club again.

He had spells at Birmingham, Rotherham, Bradford and Bolton before joining ATK in 2017 in the Indian Super League, managed by Teddy Sheringham. But following the 2017/18 season, he left and hasn’t played since.

Tom Thorpe

Ryan Tunnicliffe

What the Independent said: “Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville are not men who praise easily but they both believe that this powerful midfielder, who captained the side on Monday night, has every chance of making an impact in the Premier League.

“Perhaps his finest hour in the FA Youth Cup run was leading United back from a two-goal deficit at Anfield. It called for grit, determination and skill – qualities Tunnicliffe has in abundance.”

Tunnicliffe played twice for United’s first team before he joined Fulham in January 2013. He swapped Fulham for Millwall in 2017 before signing for Portsmouth in League One last summer.

Ryan Tunnicliffe

Will Keane

What the Independent said: “His early promise was recognised by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United’s then reserve-team manager, who called him up last season. As anyone who watched him hold off his marker and put his shot away in the final might have observed, he has the Norwegian’s coolness under pressure.”

Keane managed three appearances for United’s first team but serious injuries saw him fail to fulfil his potential. He’s worked hard to forge a career for himself, though. He’s currently at Wigan in League One and has already scored 10 goals in 21 league matches this season.

Will Keane

Paul Pogba

What the Independent said: “This surging, brilliant young midfielder was born in Lagny-sur-Marne, not far from Euro Disney, and some of his football has a quality of fantasia about it.”

Where is he now? We genuinely don’t know. Injured since being sent off against Liverpool back in October apparently.

Paul Pogba

Ravel Morrison

What the Independent said: “He may be portrayed as the academy’s problem child but there is little doubt of his ability. A rough, glittering diamond.”

Once hailed by Sir Alex Ferguson as the best youngster he’d ever seen, Morrison’s career hasn’t quite gone to plan. He only played there times for Man Utd before moving to West Ham. A host of failed loan spells followed before moves to Lazio, Ostersund in Sweden and ADO Den Haag in the Netherlands.

Now, he’s at Derby and playing consistently under Wayne Rooney.

Ravel Morrison

What about the rest?

Let’s take a look at the other members of United’s FA Youth Cup-winning squad…

QUIZ: Can you name these 15 obscure Manchester United footballers from the 2000s?

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Chris Eagles - Manchester United

Do you know this obscure Manchester United footballer from the 2000s?

Sam Johnstone

He failed to play for the first team but Johnstone has done well for himself since following various loan spells. He signed for West From in 2018 for £6.5 million and has been the club’s No.1 ever since.

Michael Keane

One of the most successful players to emerge from this FA Youth Cup winning side.

He played five times for United before moving to Burnley. Everton signed him in 2017 for an initial £25 million where he remains. He’s also played 12 times for England, scoring once.

Michele Fornasier

After failing to make the grade at Old Trafford, Fornasier moved to Sampdoria in Italy. He’s spent his career in Italy but has slowly moved down the leagues. He’s currently at Monopoli in Serie C.

Sean McGinty

It’s easier to name the club McGinty hasn’t appeared for in the English Football League than he has. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration but McGinty is currently at the 15th club of his career – Ayr United in the Scottish Championship. He’s currently the club captain.

Gyliano van Velzen

After winning the FA Youth Cup, Van Velzen returned to his native Netherlands with Utrecht. He’s also played for Volendam and Roda. A brief return to England saw him join Crawley in League Two before a loan spell at Aldershot in the National League. He’s now at Telstar in the second division of Dutch football.

Gyliano van Velzen

Larnell Cole

Cole played once for United before moving to Fulham. But his career never took off and he’s now without a club having last played for FC United of Manchester, who he joined in February 2020.

John Cofie

Cofie joined Man Utd as a 14-year-old in a £1 million fee from Burnley. But the Ghana-born player has struggled to live up to the hype despite playing for England U17s on three occasions.

After failed spells at the likes of Barnsley, Molde and Crawley Town it soon became clear that Cofie wasn’t going to make it. His last club was Global FC in the Philippines before, at the age of 27, he announced his retirement to start a coaching career.

Tom Lawrence

Ryan Giggs gave Lawrence his one and only Man Utd appearance during the 2013/14 campaign. A move to Leicester followed and after a few loan spells, he joined Derby at the start of the 2017/18. He remains at Pride Park, where he’s scored five goals in 18 league matches this season. He’s also been capped 23 times for Wales.

Tyler Blackett

Blackett actually played 12 times for United under Van Gaal. He signed for Reading in 2016, where he spent three years before a move to Nottingham Forest. In August, he joined Major League Soccer club FC Cincinnati on a free transfer.

Jesse Lingard

Lingard still finds himself at the club, 11 years on. Lingard has now played 223 times for the club with his incredible form on loan at West Ham giving him a second chance. His long-term future at United remains uncertain.

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