Where are they now? Man Utd’s FA Youth Cup winners from 2010-11

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Manchester United captain Tom Thorpe (left) and Ravel Morrison celebrate with the FA Youth Cup trophy. Old Trafford, Manchester, May 2011.

Manchester United have always had talented players in their academy – but what happened to the team that won the 2011 FA Youth Cup?

After drawing 2-2 in the first leg of the final against Sheffield United, the Red Devils wrapped things up with a 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

Nine members of that squad made a first-team appearance for United – here’s what they’re all up to now.

Sam Johnstone

Johnstone’s path to the first team was blocked by David de Gea’s arrival in 2011, and he never made a senior appearance for United.

The goalkeeper had 10 loan spells with seven different clubs before joining West Brom on a permanent deal in 2018.

Since moving to the Hawthorns, the 29-year-old has established himself as a first-team regular and won three England caps. He’s even being linked with a move back to Old Trafford this season.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba during the Premier League match at Old Trafford. September 2016.

READ: Sam Johnstone next? Seven players who had a second spell at Man Utd

Michael Keane

Keane made five appearances for United’s first team before Louis van Gaal sanctioned his departure to Burnley in 2015.

He established himself as a reliable top-flight defender at Turf Moor and earned a £30million move to Everton in 2017.

The 29-year-old has now made over 200 Premier League appearances and has 12 England caps to his name, though he’s not played for Gareth Southgate’s team since 2020.

Sean McGinty

McGinty failed to make the grade at United and became the last player to have his contract terminated by Sir Alex Ferguson before his retirement.

A move to Sheffield United followed and he has since spent time at Rochdale, Aldershot Town, Torquay United, Partick Thistle and Greenock Morton.

“As a youngster I made a lot of bad decisions and maybe I could have been playing at a higher level,” McGinty told the Aldershot Town website in 2016.

“That was probably the only reason I left Manchester United because I did stuff off the pitch that I shouldn’t have been doing. Being young and at one of the best teams in the country, it all got to my head a bit really.”

The defender is now plying his trade in the Scottish second tier for Ayr United.

Tom Thorpe

Thorpe captained the FA Youth Cup-winning side, but his senior United career amounted to 111 seconds in a cameo appearance against West Ham in 2014.

After being released in 2015, the centre-back joined Rotherham United in the Championship and then had loan spells at Bradford and Bolton.

Now 29, he has been without a club since leaving Indian Super League side ATK in 2018.

Michele Fornasier

Fornasier spent four years in United’s academy but left in 2013, having never made a senior appearance in English football.

The Italian returned to his homeland and spent two years at Serie A side Sampdoria before joining Pescara in 2015.

He then signed for Parma in 2019 but was immediately sent out on loan to Trapani in the second division.

He’s since spent time in Serie B and Serie C with Cremonesi and Monopoli, respectively.

Ryan Tunnicliffe

Tunnicliffe made his senior debut against Newcastle United in the League Cup in 2012, earning his father £10,000 in the process.

When the midfielder was nine his father had placed the wager that his son would one day play for United, taking the odds of 100-1 with a £100 bet.

But it was one of only two appearances Tunnicliffe made for the senior squad before dropping down to the Championship with permanent spells at Fulham, Millwall and currently Luton Town.

He’s currently running out at Fratton Park for Portsmouth in League One.

Lewis Cook making his England debut at Wembley in March 2018.

READ: 5 footballers whose families placed long-term bets on their success

Paul Pogba

Pogba was frustrated by his lack of first-team opportunities at United and joined Juventus on a free transfer in 2012.

During his four years in Italy, he established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world, winning four Serie A titles and two Coppa Italias.

United spent £89million to bring him back to the club in 2016, but it looks like he’ll be deaprting when his contract expires this summer.

Ravel Morrison (John Cofie, 91)

Morrison was regarded as the greatest talent of that generation but numerous off-field issues have prevented him from fulfilling his potential.

He only ever made three appearances for his boyhood club and had spells with West Ham, QPR, Lazio, Atlas and Ostersund before returning to these shores with Sheffield United.

The midfielder failed to make an impact at the Blades and was sent on loan to Middlesbrough in January 2020.

“I remember watching Ravel Morrison thinking he had everything required for a player in his position,” Wayne Rooney told the Sunday Times in 2020.

“He was brilliant. He was confident. He nutmegged Nemanja Vidic three times in the space of a minute in one training game.

“But he struggled with lifestyle and his environment, which was sad for him – because I saw Paul Pogba come through, Jesse Lingard, all these players and Ravel was better than any of them by a country mile.”

Rooney has now finally got his hands on Morrison during his current spell as manager at Derby, and early signs are that he’ll finally be the man to get a tune out of the troubled playmaker.

Cofie, Morisson’s replacement on the day, was released by United in 2013 and had a nomadic career. In 2020, he even showed up at Global Cebu in the Philippines.

Jesse Lingard (Larnell Cole, 78)

Following a string of loan moves, Lingard broke into the United first team under Van Gaal and scored the winning goal in the 2016 FA Cup final.

The 29-year-old has also won the League Cup and the Europa League but his opportunities have become limited in recent seasons and he is another one who could leave for nothing in the summer.

Cole made one solitary appearance for the Red Devils and now plays for Radcliffe Borough in the sixth tier of English football.

Will Keane

Keane scored in both legs of the FA Youth Cup final and looked set for a bright future at United before suffering a cruciate ligament injury.

The striker endured a difficult few years after leaving Old Trafford but has finally found a home at Wigan and has scored 21 League One goals so far this season.

“I know what I’m capable of and I still believe I’ve got the attributes to work my way back up,” Keane told the Manchester Evening News in 2019.

“If I’d not had the injuries — and it’s all ifs and buts — but I was confident I had the ability to be at a higher level to where I am now. Whether that’d be at United or somewhere else in the Premier League.

“I’ve grown up with those players and I see a lot of them now turning out in the Premier League every week and part of me thinks, ‘God, if they’re there, I should be there.'”

Gyliano Van Velzen (Tyler Blackett, 84)

Van Velzen was released from his United contract in 2013 and spent the next six years playing in the Eredivisie.

The forward returned to England with Crawley Town in 2019 but after just four appearances and a loan at Aldershot, he moved to Dutch second-tier side Telstar.

Blackett joined Reading on a permanent deal in 2016 and made over 100 appearances for the Royals before a disappointing season at Nottingham Forest. In 2021, he moved to MLS with Cincinnatti FC.


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