A debut goal for this lad.

Where are they now? The 12 Man Utd academy graduates to make one appearance for the club since 2010

Manchester United’s academy is one of the most famed in football and has a long history of developing some of the game’s greatest players, as well as helping to create countless professional football careers worldwide.

Like with any academy, not every player on the books at United can make it at the Theatre of Dreams. To even get as far as making an appearance for the Red Devils is achievement enough in itself, with many going as far as graduating from the academy, but being unable to get that dream moment.

A long career at United is always the dream, but for these 12 players since 2010, one appearance was all they got. Here’s what they’re up to now.

*Note – We’ve excluded players still on the books at United who have one appearance to their name and could yet still add to that.

Larnell Cole

Manchester-born and bred midfielder Cole was a schoolboy at United and highly rated in the academy, impressing at various levels and in the FA Youth Cup.

His only appearance for the club came as a substitute in the League Cup in September 2011, replacing Federico Macheda in a win over Leeds United.

He moved to Fulham in 2014, but spent most of his time out on loan and has enjoyed a largely non-league career since 2019. Cole, now 30, currently plays for Warrington Town.

Robbie Brady

Brady signed for United shortly after his 16th birthday after impressing in Ireland for St. Kevin’s Boys. His only appearance for United came in the 86th minute of a League Cup clash against Newcastle in September 2012, replacing Alex Buttner.

He left for Hull shortly after – rejoining the club on another loan spell – and made his stay permanent in January 2013. Since then, he’s enjoyed a strong career at Championship level and been capped 60 times for the Republic of Ireland.

The 32-year-old wideman has been with Preston since 2022.

Tom Lawrence

Joining United at just eight years old, much was expected of Lawrence at United after a strong start at youth level.

Consistently punching above his weight in his teens, the midfielder struggled when tasked with stepping up to the reserves and found himself out on loan.

His only United appearance came under interim boss Ryan Gigs in May 2014, starting against Hull following David Moyes’ sacking.

Lawrence has also enjoyed a strong career in the EFL, most notably five years at Derby, but is now at Rangers and has been capped 23 times for Wales.

Saidy Janko

A right-back by trade, Janko joined United in 2013 from FC Zurich and was named Reserve Player of the Year in his first season.

His United debut unfortunately came from the start in their 4-0 thrashing away to MK Dons under Louis van Gaal in 2014, where he was hooked at half-time. Janko left permanently in 2015 and has since played all around Europe.

Now 28, he’s played six times for Gambia after switching his national allegiance and returned to Young Boys permanently last summer, following a loan spell earlier in his career.

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Reece James

No, not that one. Although funnily enough, James is also a full-back. He also made his only appearance for the club in the infamous defeat to MK Dons and left the following summer to sign for Wigan.

The 30-year-old currently plays for Sheffield Wednesday after making a loan move permanent last summer.

Tom Thorpe

Captain of United’s under-21 side that won the league in 2012-13 and the 2011 FA Youth Cup winning side, there was an expectation that Thorpe would capitalise on a defensive injury crisis under Van Gaal at the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

His only United appearance was as a late substitute for Angel Di Maria in the Premier League at home to West Ham, however, and he was released the following summer.

Thorpe floated around the EFL after his release and looked to be building a steady career, but left England for India in 2017 when he signed for ATK.

After that brief stint, he took a five-year career break from football due to injuries and mental health problems, but returned to the game last year with Northern Premier League Division One side Macclesfield.

The 31-year-old is still playing following his break, turning out for fellow eighth-tier side Stalybridge Celtic.

James Weir

Another player given his debut under Van Gaal, Weir had a strong career for United at youth level and made his only appearance as a late substitute for Ander Herrera against Arsenal in 2016 – the same game in which Marcus Rashford a brace on his own Premier League debut.

Weir’s career path turned out quite different. He rejected a new contract at the club at the end of the season in search of regular football and signed for Hull City, but again struggled for minutes in a strange spell broken up by a loan to Wigan.

He retired aged just 28 in February 2024 after failing to shake off persistent injuries that had plagued him since Hull, having also played for Bolton and in Slovakia and Hungary. Stories for the grandkids.

Josh Harrop

On the final day of the 2016-17 Premier League season, striker Harrop was given a start for United by Jose Mourinho and made good on it, scoring on his debut at home to Crystal Palace.

He rejected a new deal from the club and joined Preston that summer, looking to get his career off the ground, but found himself ravaged by various injuries at the club which stunted his momentum.

After loan spells to Ipswich and Fleetwood, he left Preston for Northampton in 2022. Now 28, Harrop joined League One side Cheltenham Town in January 2024.

Demetri Mitchell

Winner of United’s Denzil Haroun Young Player of the Year award in 2018, Mitchell’s debut came in the same game as Harrop’s against Palace, with Mourinho naming a youthful side.

Injuries stunted his progress also, notably hampering a promising loan to Hearts, and he was released by United in 2020. The 27-year-old full-back now plays for Exeter City – and now likes to tweet a lot. Isak Hansen-Aaroen at Manchester United.

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Dylan Levitt

Much was thought of Levitt who – alongside James Garner – ripped it up in midfield at youth level for United.

Many thought the pair were essentially at the same level, but while Garner has managed to forge a career in the Premier League after being sold by Erik ten Hag, Levitt was never able to turn his one United appearance into more.

His United debut came against Astana in the Europa League in 2019, but a series of tough loan spells saw his progress halt.

The Wales international has since found his stride in Scottish football, first with Dundee United and now with Hibernian. He’s also been capped for his country 13 times at just 23 years old.

A promising career still beckons.

D’Mani Mellor

Also debuting under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Astana, Mellor missed the entire 2020-21 season due to injury and left United in 2022 to sign for Wycombe.

The 23-year-old has since spent time on loan at Rochdale and Sutton United, but recently re-joined National League side Rochdale in his second loan spell with the club.

Largie Ramazani

Belgian winger Ramazani joined United at 16 and was a late substitute for Garner in that defeat to Astana in the Europa League, but left the club the following summer after rejecting fresh terms.

He signed for Spanish second-tier side Almeria that summer and is now a regular in the side following their promotion to La Liga. So far this season, the 22-year-old has managed four goals and four assists from 25 games in all competitions.

Charlie Savage

Son of Robbie, Savage made his United debut as a late substitute for Juan Mata in the Champions League in December 2021 while his dad was on commentary duties.

He left United in 2023 in a bid to kickstart his own career, signing for Reading. In October last year, he earned his first senior cap for Wales against Gibraltar.

Zidane Iqbal

Debuting as a substitute in the same game as teammate Savage, Iqbal became the first British-born South Asian to play for United, and the first British South Asian to play in the Champions League.

His sale to Utrecht in the summer of 2023 took United fans by surprise, especially after a string of solid performances at youth level and in pre-season with the first team.

At just 20, Iqbal has already been capped eight times by Iraq and is finding his stride in the Netherlands after an injury-hit start.

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