The eight stages of Ravel Morrison’s career: From Man Utd to Mexico

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Ravel Morrison has had a remarkable career path to date, representing the likes of Manchester United, West Ham and Lazio, but how has he ended up in Mexico?

Still only 25, Morrison was widely considered one of the most talented young players of his generation while in Manchester United’s academy.

However, he has earned a reputation as one of the greatest wastes of potential, and now finds himself out of sight and out of mind to most European football fans in Liga MX.

Youth career

Born and raised in Manchester, Morrison was spotted by Manchester United academy coach Phil Brogan at the age of eight while playing for Fletcher Moss Rangers, a club which also produced Danny Welbeck and Wes Brown.

“I didn’t even need to see him kick a ball at that point, you could just tell he had something about him from his demeanour,” Brogan told the Daily Telegraph in 2013.

Despite also training with Manchester City, Morrison eventually signed for United following a six-week trial, and quickly went on to make an impression.

“I genuinely believe he could become good enough to play for any team in the world, including Barcelona,” Brogan added. “The talent I saw in that eight-year-old will always be there.”

Manchester United

Morrison progressed through United’s academy at the same time as the likes of Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba but was always considered the most gifted footballer.

Sir Alex Ferguson described Morrison as having “as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed”, while Rio Ferdinand called him “the best young kid I have ever seen in my life”.

“I would pay to watch him train let alone play in a match,” Ferdinand commented on BT Sport in 2013.

After turning professional on his 17th birthday in February 2010, the attacking midfielder made his senior debut in October of that year, coming on as a substitute in a League Cup victory over Wolves.

He would have to wait 12 months for his second appearance, against as a substitute in the League Cup, with his final outing for the Red Devils coming in a 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace in the same competition.

In January of 2012, United rejected an offer from Newcastle for the player, but with six months left on his deal, his future already appeared away from Old Trafford.

“We have offered him terms, which he has refused,” Ferguson said. “His demands are unrealistic. His agent has been working hard to get him another club.”

Troubling times

By that point there were already concerns about Morrison’s attitude and off-pitch behaviour.

In 2011 he pleaded guilty to two counts of witness intimidation and was sentenced to a 12-month referral order and ordered to pay costs and compensation of £1,445.

Later that year he underwent domestic violence counselling after it was revealed in court he threw his girlfriend’s phone out of a window during an argument.

Back at United there was a growing acceptance that it would be in the interests of all parties for Morrison to move out of Manchester.

United tried everything they could to help him, but sometimes you can fall in with the wrong crowd,” Brogan said.

“I think leaving Manchester was, in retrospect, one of the best things that could have happened to him to enable him to focus on his career. I think there were negative influences he needed to get away from.”

West Ham

On deadline day of January 2012, Morrison dropped down a division to join West Ham on a three-and-a-half year contract but made just one first-team appearance as the Hammers earned promotion back to the Premier League.

Even before he had made his debut, Morrison had been in trouble again and was fined £7,000 by the FA after making homophobic comments on Twitter.

The following season he was sent on loan to Birmingham City and, while there were initial concerns over his attitude, finally he displayed moments of quality at first-team level.

After returning to Upton Park ahead of the 2013-14 season, Morrison then made the breakthrough into the first team and began to make an impact on the Premier League.

This was to be quite possibly the best spell of Morrison’s career to date as he scored five times in all competitions during the first half of the season, including this stunning solo effort against Tottenham in a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane.

Loan ranger

Morrison, however, fell out of favour in the second half of the campaign and eventually returned to the Championship to join QPR on loan in February 2014.

Again he impressed, scoring six times and helping QPR win promotion via the play-offs – although he was an unused substitute in the victory over Derby in the final.

The following September, with Morrison back at West Ham, Allardyce said: “It’s not that he has to impress me as a footballer, we know about his talent.

“It’s about playing the talent and himself to a disciplined life in general, is what needs to happen with Rav. If that happens we’d want him here.”

Evidently, that did not happen, and later that month he joined Cardiff City on loan, where he started only once. During that time he was also placed on the transfer list by West Ham.

Allardyce later described Morrison as “the biggest waste of talent I ever worked with”.

Lazio

With six months remaining of his deal at West Ham, Morrison signed a pre-contract agreement with Lazio in January of 2015.

A month later the Hammers terminated his contract early to allow the player to move to Rome and start training with his new club.

Reports quickly began to surface that Morrison was unable to settle in Italy, and there were even suggestions he had been offered back to QPR before he had appeared for Lazio.

Despite a promising start to pre-season, the England Under-21 international failed to establish himself at Lazio amid renewed criticisms of his attitude.

“Morrison has to work harder,” Lazio boss Stefano Pioli said. “He still doesn’t speak a word of Italian and this has slowed his development and his integration in the squad.”

After eight appearances in all competitions, he did indeed return to QPR, on loan, but yet again made just one start as the London outfit turned down the chance to make the transfer permanent.

Mexico

If Morrison’s career had been turbulent up to that point, his latest move came completely from left field as he moved to Mexico to join Atlas.

“Atlas wanted a statement signing,” Morrison’s agent Dan Wilson told BBC Sport. “They got in contact and showed their serious intent from the start to do everything to complete the loan deal.

“We did some research on the league and saw some big-name players playing there from big European clubs. Andre-Pierre Gignac from Marseille, Keisuke Honda from AC Milan, West Ham’s Enner Valencia and Juan Iturbe of Roma to name a few.

“It was a very difficult decision as he had options in Europe. It is a difficult decision to move to a new country, let alone a new continent.

“But the club made him feel very important, went beyond their means and the most important factor is that the coach counts on him.”

Atlas may be languishing at the bottom of Liga MX, but Morrison is at least back playing football, making 11 appearances and scoring once.

Switching allegiances?

After representing England from Under-16 to Under-21 level, Morrison is now understood to be in talks to switch his international allegiance to Jamaica.

Once regarded as the great hope of English football, it now seems highly unlikely he will get the chance to represent the Three Lions at senior level, but hopefully the chance to play regular football in Mexico and for Jamaica will help the 25-year-old rekindle his mojo for the game.

His career is nothing if not interesting.


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