Where are they now? Man Utd’s youngest ever Champions League side

Nostalgia

On March 18, 2003, Manchester United fielded their youngest ever team in the Champions League for a dead rubber against Deportivo La Coruna.

United, who had already sealed top spot of the second group stage, lost 2-0 and were dumped out of the competition in the next round with a 6-5 aggregate loss to Real Madrid, but Sir Alex Ferguson stated he was “satisfied with the effort” his young side put in.

Here, we look back at those that played that night…

Ricardo

The Spaniard’s three-year United career – and probably his whole career in general – went a bit unnoticed. Or at least it did until we interviewed him.

He joined the club in 2002, at 30 years of age, but struggled behind Fabien Barthez and Roy Carroll, despite vowing he could go on to be the saviour in January 2005.

After retiring, the twice-capped Spain international spent a year as goalkeeping coach for Japan’s national side before taking over as manager of Racing Ferrol in Segunda B in 2018.

READ: The story of Ricardo’s three years at Man Utd and how it shaped his career

Lee Roche (Michael Stewart 46)

Deployed on the right-hand side of the three centre backs, Roche was hooked at half-time as Ferguson opted for a change in formation.

It would be his last appearance for United. He went on to play for Burnley, Wrexham and Droylsden before hanging up his boots in 2011 aged just 30, and after a spell fitting cavity wall insulation, he is now a coach at Bury.

Stewart also never played for United again and retired at 30, going on to run for parliament in 2015 but, after losing, focusing on following the herd as a pundit.

Laurent Blanc

The 37-year-old’s career was drawing to a close, but ‘Le President’ was drafted in to oversee the youthful side.

Blanc’s most recent managerial job saw him leave PSG with a reported 22 million euro pay-off so he’s probably sat on a yacht somewhere sunny.

John O’Shea

One of few success stories of this United side, O’Shea made 393 appearances for United before joining Sunderland in 2011. Following the Black Cats relegation to League One in 2018, he remained in the Championship with Reading, while he also called time on his Republic of Ireland career with the small matter of 118 caps to his name.

READ: Eight great goals from unexpected players: O’Shea, Traore, Edman…

Mark Lynch

Lynch, making what was unknowingly his first and last appearance in a United shirt, scored a second-half own goal which sealed the victory for the hosts.

He went on to have a nomadic and spectacularly unimpressive career, which culminated at Altrincham where he retired in 2012 just 30 years old.

These days he posts mainly about fitness and climbing mountains on his Instagram page.

Darren Fletcher

Another who went on to be a mainstay at Old Trafford, Fletcher made 340 appearances for United, which would have been more had an unfortunate illness not decimated his final few years at the club.

Just the eighth outfield player to start 100 consecutive matches in the Premier League, Fletcher left the Red Devils for West Brom and now plies his trade for Stoke City in the Championship.

READ: Are these the 20 greatest Corinthian bigheads of all time? They just might be

Phil Neville

Gary’s brother anchored the midfield in the north of Spain and was perhaps unsurprisingly the only United player booked on the night.

In 2018. he took over as head coach of the England Women’s team. He is also involved with the Class of ’92’s ambitious project at Salford City, while son Harvey is now a member of United’s youth team.

Nicky Butt

Completing what wasn’t a bad midfield trio on reflection, Butt went on to make 387 appearances for United and 173 for Newcastle.

Now also a co-owner of Salford and the head of youth coaching at Old Trafford, the no-nonsense midfielder hung up his boots in 2011 after a bizarre spell at South China in the Hong Kong first division.

Danny Pugh

The Deportivo match fell in the midst of a handful of United appearances for the young left-back.

Going on to be described as an excellent professional by Tony Pulis was undoubtedly the pinnacle of his career, and Pugh is now player-coach at League Two strugglers Port Vale.

Diego Forlan (Kieran Richardson 72)

He came from Uruguary, and made the Scousers cry” is an affectionate chant attributed to Forlan’s brace in a 2-1 victory over Liverpool in December 2002.

After not reaching the levels hoped for him at Old Trafford, the striker went on to score 96 goals in 196 appearances for Atletico Madrid, and earned the Golden Ball as he was crowned the best player at the 2010 World Cup.

Richardson, meanwhile, is currently without a club and was most recently seen of when he turned up for a trial during Tony Adams’ failed British revolution at Granada.

READ: How Diego Forlan fought to become a Manchester United cult hero

Ryan Giggs (Danny Webber 72)

After a short-lived stint as interim manager at United, Giggs took over as head coach of Wales in January 2018.

Webber, meanwhile, last turned out on the football pitch for Giggs’ Salford City, and towards the end of 2017 was spotted training with amateur club Egerton.


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