Where are they now? Every Man Utd Academy Player of the Year since 2000

Quick Reads

Manchester United are famed for developing exciting young footballers, but their winners of the Academy Player of the Year award this century haven’t always gone on to success.

The award is named after Jimmy Murphy, who worked at Old Trafford for over 25 years as assistant manager, first-team coach, reserves manager and scout.

We’ve taken a look back at every recipient of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year since 2000.

1999-00 – Bojan Djordjic

One of the Premier League one-game wonders we couldn’t track down, Djordic’s solitary United appearance came in a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham in May 2001.

The winger then embarked on a nomadic career with spells in the Football League, Denmark, Serbia, Hungary, Belgium, Sweden and India.

Djordjic’s career has come full circle, as he now works as a pundit for MUTV and Swedish television.

READ: The Premier League one-game wonders we simply couldn’t track down

2000-01 – Alan Tate

Despite captaining United’s reserves, Tate never made a first-team appearance for the club before going on to establish himself as a Swansea stalwart.

The defender initially joined Swansea in 2002, helping the Welsh outfit avoid relegation from the Football League before playing an integral part to their incredible rise to the top flight.

Tate retired in 2016 after a short spell with Port Talbot Town before returning to Swansea as youth coach, revealing in 2018 that he had received some tips from his former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

2001-02 – Paul Tierney

Tierney did actually get to taste senior football with the Red Devils, appearing in a League Cup defeat to second-tier West Brom in December 2003.

But the left-back dropped down the divisions thereafter and was last seen spending a month at Altrincham in 2008 when he was still just 26.

2002-03 – Ben Collett

A sad tale, Collett scored in the first leg of United’s FA Youth Cup victory over Middlesbrough in 2003, but his career would never recover after he suffered a double leg break in a reserve game a week later.

The midfielder did have short spells at New Zealand Knights and AGOVV Apeldoorn but later won a £4.5million payout after undergoing legal proceedings against Middlesbrough and their player Gary Smith.

Alex Ferguson, Brian McClair, Howard Wilkinson and Gary Neville all attending the hearing, in which Neville said he expected Collett to become  ”a top-level football player”, while Fergie described the midfielder as ”A-class” with an ”outstanding chance” of becoming a full-time professional if he had not been injured.

2003-04 – Jonathan Spector

We used to like Spector. We’re not sure why and can’t really remember if he was even any good or not. But Jonathan Spector is quite a cool name.

Anyway, yes, the former US international was named Orlando City captain last season, only to be released at the end of the campaign after an injury-hit campaign.

Somehow he’s still only 32.

2004-05 – Giuseppe Rossi

Another player who has had a promising career decimated by injury – albeit not to the same extent as Ben Collett – Rossi recently made a surprise return to Old Trafford after being invited to train with his former club by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to regain fitness.

2005-06 – Darron Gibson

Admittedly the bar is not set particularly high, but Gibson went on to have the best United career of his predecessors on this list, winning a league title and two League Cups.

But the midfielder has somewhat gone off the rails since leaving the Red Devils in 2012, twice pleading guilty to drink driving offences plus a car crash couple of seasons at Sunderland.

Now 31, he has spent the 2018-19 campaign in and out of the Wigan team.

2006-07 – Craig Cathcart

Cathcart has gone on to establish himself as a reliable Premier League regular with Watford but never made a senior appearance for United.

He was, however, given the honour of being one of the 29 United players sent on loan to Royal Antwerp.

READ: Where are they now? The 29 players Man Utd loaned to Royal Antwerp

2007-08 – Danny Welbeck

Dat Guy, innit?

2008-09 – Federico Macheda

If only someone had written about how Macheda’s career has panned out. Oh, right…

READ: The seven stages of Federico Macheda’s career: From golden boy to nomad

2009-10 – Will Keane

The twin brother of Everton defender and another former United academy product in Michael, Keane played a handful of matches for United’s first team, but his career has been blighted by injuries.

The striker joined Ipswich on loan from Hull in January and has already scored three goals for the Championship strugglers, making this the joint most prolific season of his career.

2010-11 – Ryan Tunnicliffe

Tunnicliffe’s father won £10,000 when his son made his Manchester United debut against Newcastle in 2012, but the midfielder made just one more appearance for the club before being signed by his former coach Rene Muelensteen at Fulham.

He has since become a regular in the Championship for Millwall but has made headlines for the wrong reasons, admitting to drink driving while still a youngster at United and receiving a two-match ban in 2015 for a tweet in which he called Patrick Bamford “a sausage boy”.

2011-12 – Mats Møller Daehli

A player extremely familiar with current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who signed Daehli for both Molde and Cardiff – with the Red Devils interested in re-signing the midfielder upon his return to England.

Like many of Solskjaer’s signings for the Welsh outfit, things didn’t work out, despite him being described as “the most naturally gifted footballer the Bluebirds have had on their books since the emergence of a young Aaron Ramsey” by Wales Online sports editor Paul Abbandonato in 2014.

The Norway international now turns out in Germany’s second tier for St Pauli, having also spent an unsuccessful spell at Freiburg.

2012-13 – Ben Pearson

There was plenty of hype around Pearson during Louis van Gaal’s tenure in the Old Trafford hotseat, with the Manchester Evening News comparing the midfielder to Paul Scholes in a 2014 profile.

The former England youth international ultimately never made the grade with the Red Devils but impressed on loan at Barnsley in League One, earning himself a permanent move Preston, where he has established himself in the Championship.

2013-14 – James Wilson

It seems an awful long time ago Wilson scored twice on his Manchester United debut under Ryan Giggs, and it’s scarcely believable the striker remains on the books at Old Trafford, spending the current season on loan at Aberdeen.

2014-15 – Axel Tuanzebe

A name you will often see accompanying very excitable tweets from United fans, Tuanzebe has been on loan at Aston Villa since January 2018, earning plenty of admirers along the way.

2015-16 – Marcus Rashford

This one has gone slightly better than Paul Tierney.

2016-17 – Angel Gomes

The youngest player to win the Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year award and the youngest player to appear for United’s first team since Duncan Edwards when he made his debut against Crystal Palace in May 2017.

The future seems bright.

2017-18 – Tahith Chong

If only someone had recently profiled Chong and some of his fellow academy players tipped to break into United’s first team. Oh, right…


READ: A closer look at the four Man Utd youngsters tipped for the first team

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