13 players you forgot ever played for Man Utd: Beardsley, Milinkovic-Savic…
Playing for Manchester United is likely to be the pinnacle of the majority of players’ careers, which must make it pretty annoying once they’ve been forgotten.
But United are one of the biggest clubs in the world, which means not everyone can establish themselves at Old Trafford.
We’ve taken a look at 13 players you may have forgotten were ever on the books with the Red Devils.
Failing to make the grade at United didn’t exactly hold Beardsley back, but it did contribute to a bizarre career path when he was starting out as a professional footballer.
After beginning his professional career with Carlisle, Beardsley took the unusual step of moving to Vancouver Whitecaps. He returned to England by joining United in 1982 but made just a solitary appearance in the League Cup and was sent back to Vancouver a year later.
Shortly afterwards he joined boyhood club Newcastle United and went on to become a favourite at St James’ Park as well as Liverpool and Everton, also appearing for England at two World Cups.
*Adopts Athletico Mince voice*… dog dirt.
Ray Wilkins excited about the prospect of linking up with Peter Beardsley at Manchester United. pic.twitter.com/GL2Y0h6fb1
— When Football Was Better (@FootballInT80s) November 20, 2016
While Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is seemingly Manchester United’s answer to Leandro Damiao to Tottenham – an ever-present of every summer’s rumour mill – they have already signed, and sold, his brother.
United spent €1.75million to sign Vanja from FK Vojvodina in 2014, with the goalkeeper remaining at the Serbian outfit on loan for the following season.
Work permit complications saw the stopper released in November 2015, and he’s now a regular for Serie A side Torino.
Having been spotted at the age of 16 while playing for St Kevin’s Boys, Brady appeared in the same United youth teams as the likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard but made just one substitute appearance for the club.
In 2015, Brady recounted a story to the Irish Times in which he was given a bollocking from Sir Alex Ferguson for not standing up for himself when Cristiano Ronaldo cut ahead of him in the queue for the canteen.
“I was still in awe and maybe it took me a little while to get what it really took,” he said.
The Republic of Ireland international eventually established himself in the Premier League with Hull, Norwich and Burnley and is now turning out for Preston North End in the Championship.
On the books at United from the age of eight, Chester captained the reserve team and was even nominated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award in 2009.
However, the centre-back’s only appearance for the club came as a substitute in the second leg of the 2009 League Cup semi-final. United were 3-0 up against Championship outfit Derby at the time of his introduction, only to concede twice and be forced to hold on for a 4-3 aggregate victory.
Chester left Old Trafford for Hull the following season, becoming one of the most highly-rated defenders in the second tier before helping them to the Premier League and later moving on to West Brom and Aston Villa.
Yes, before Crooks was renowned for turning his BBC Team of the Week column into a psychedelic rant, the former Tottenham player had a brief spell on loan at United in 1983-84, scoring twice in seven First Division appearances.
One of a number of youngsters sent on loan to Royal Antwerp during a time when the Belgian outfit acted as a feeder club to United, Higginbotham spent the majority of his career in an ode to sibilance, turning out for Southampton, Stoke (across two spells), Sunderland and Sheffield United.
The defender did get to make seven appearances for his boyhood club United, who gave him a four-year contract despite the fact he faced a one-year ban from football due to an alleged attack on a referee while in Belgium.
“When I was 16, I made the decision that if I was still around at 21 and not in the first team I’d have to be professional and go and play first-team football somewhere else,” Webber said in 2003 after rejecting a new three-year deal at Old Trafford.
“I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t broken through, but there’s no point thinking about what could have been.”
While he was highly rated by United chiefs, the striker had the likes of Louis Saha, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Diego Forlan to compete with for a place in attack, and so he left for Watford before later playing for Sheffield United, Portsmouth and Leeds.
We ranked Goram fourth in United’s weirdest signings of the Premier League era, noting: “In the three years after leaving Rangers and retiring from international football, Andy Goram played for three different clubs.
“He joined Manchester United on loan after that, presumably because Alex Ferguson had thrown away all his computers due to concerns about the Millennium Bug 18 months before Goram’s 2001 arrival and had to rely on an old Rolodex which only contained Goram’s name as well as those of Honus Wagner, Cap Anson and Mordecai ‘Three Finger’ Brown.”
READ: Ranking Manchester United’s 27 weirdest Premier League signings
Despite ending his career as Northern Ireland’s greatest goalscorer, Healy made just three substitute appearances for United, failing to grab a goal.
The striker proved more prolific in the Championship for Preston and Leeds, earning a return to the Premier League with Fulham and Sunderland before once more dropping down the leagues.
King established himself as a handy Premier League player with Bournemouth having built a name for himself in the Football League with Blackburn, but it’s easy to forget he was actually at United from the age of 16.
It’s also easy to forget he’s Norwegian, but King was at Old Trafford at the same time as Jesse Lingard, and we’re convinced the two are playing an elaborate joke on us all and that it is actually Lingard, not King, who’s Nordic.
King came oh so close to reuniting with the club, and compatriot Solskjaer, back in 2020. But the deal never quite made it over the line.
Josh King: "When you hear that you are connected to #mufc and a bid comes in, then the feelings you had as a 16-year-old come back to you. But why it [deadline day move] did not happen, I do not know." #mulive [tv2]
— utdreport (@utdreport) February 9, 2020
After making his first Premier League appearance as a young prospect with United in 1998, Nevland had to wait another decade until he made his second.
By that point he was 30 years old and had joined Roy Hodgson’s Fulham side that was embroiled in a relegation battle, ultimately helping to fire the Cottagers to safety.
Long before he was prowling touchlines looking like the world’s henchest Wetherspoons bouncer, Appleton was coming through the youth ranks at United, his boyhood club having grown up in Salford.
He appeared twice as a midfielder before becoming Preston’s record signing in 1997, retiring at the age of 27 at West Brom after being sidelined for two years with a serious knee injury.
One of football’s pioneering black players, Cunningham is best remembered as one of The Three Degrees at West Brom alongside Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson as well as becoming a Real Madrid hero and the first Brit to join Los Blancos.
The winger spent a brief spell on loan at Manchester United at the end of the 1982-83 season, playing just five times before returning to Spain.
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