Football Features

What happened next? Every winner of Manchester United’s Jimmy Murphy award since 2000

By Oliver Young-Myles

Published: 16:30, 3 December 2020

Throughout the good times and the bad, a defining characteristic of Manchester United as a football club throughout the generations has been their emphasis on developing home-grown talent.

From the Busby Babes to the Class of ’92 to the current crop inspired by the prodigiously talented Marcus Rashford, the Red Devils always seem to have at least one academy graduate included in their matchday squad.

Given the quality that has passed through the United academy in their illustrious history, it is perhaps unsurprising that they are the most successful club in the history of the FA Youth Cup, winning it on no fewer than ten occasions.

As is the norm, every year, United reward one youngster with the Young Player of the Year award, renamed the Jimmy Murphy award in 1989 following his passing. Murphy had been Sir Matt Busby’s assistant during the successful ‘Busby Babes’ years and had personally scouted and then trained some of the club’s most legendary homegrown players, including Sir Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards.

A number of future first-team stars won the Jimmy Murphy award in the years after its renaming, including Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Wes Brown and that trend has continued since the turn of the Millennium.

This is what happened next to every Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year winner since 2000.

1999/2000: Bojan Djordjic

Age: 38
Position: Left-winger
Man United apps: 1
Career path: Brommapojkarna, Man United, Sheffield Wednesday (loan), AGF (loan), Red Star Belgrade (loan), Rangers, Plymouth Argyle, AIK, Videoton, Blackpool, Royal Antwerp, Brommapojkarna, Vasalund, Chennaiyin

A former Sweden youth international, Djordjic spent six years at Old Trafford but was unable to break into the first-team. Djordjic enjoyed his best form with Plymouth between 2005 and 07.

2000/01: Alan Tate

Age: 38
Position: Centre-back
Man United apps: 0
Career path: Man United, Royal Antwerp (loan), Swansea, Leeds (loan), Yeovil Town (loan), Aberdeen (loan), Crewe (loan), Port Talbot Town

Tate failed to make a first-team appearance for the Red Devils but instead became a club legend at Swansea City, playing for 11 years across all four English divisions. After leaving the Swans in 2015, Tate opted to stay in Wales, joining Port Talbot Town before returning to Swansea in September 2019 as an assistant first-team coach.

2001/02: Paul Tierney

Age: 38
Position: Left-back
Man United apps: 1
Career path: Man United, Crewe (loan), Colchester United (loan), Bradford City (loan), Livingston, Blackpool, Altrincham, East Kilbride, Glasgow BSC

An Irish U21 international, Tierney made his debut for United in a League Cup tie against West Brom in 2003. He spent five years out of the game after leaving Altrincham in 2009 before returning to play in the Scottish lower leagues.

2002/03: Ben Collett

Age: 36
Position: Right-midfielder
Man United apps: 0
Career path: Man United, New Zealand Knights, AGOVV Apeldoorn

Described as an ‘A-Class footballer’ by Sir Alex Ferguson, Collett’s career was cruelly cut short through injury after he was on the receiving end of a horrible challenge in a youth game in 2003. After attempting to revitalise his career in New Zealand and the Netherlands, Collett retired in 2007 and a year later was awarded damages of £4.5m for his injury.

2003/04: Jonathan Spector

Age: 34
Position: Right-back/Central midfield
Man United apps: 7
Career path: Chicago Fire, Man United, Charlton Athletic (loan), West Ham, Birmingham City, Orlando City, Hibernian

Signed after impressing while playing for USA’s U17 team, Spector has forged a successful career for himself in England’s top two divisions after leaving United in 2006. He’s since called it a day after playing in the US with Orlando City and more recently Hibernian.

2004/05: Giuseppe Rossi

Age: 33
Position: Striker
Man United apps: 14
Career path: Parma, Man United, Newcastle (loan), Parma (loan), Villarreal, Fiorentina, Levante (loan), Celta Vigo (loan) Genoa, Real Salt Lake City

Scored four goals in 14 games for United but found his path to the first team blocked by the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo and Van Nistelrooy. Rossi showcased his finishing ability during a spell at Villarreal but his career has sadly been blighted by knee injuries in recent years. His most recent stint came in the States with MLS outfit Real Salt Lake City.

2005/06: Darron Gibson

Age: 33
Position: Central midfield
Man United apps: 60
Career path: Man United, Royal Antwerp (loan), Wolves (loan), Everton, Sunderland, Wigan, Salford City

Won four major honours at United after breaking into the first-team during the 2008-09 squad and scored 10 goals in 60 games in total. In 2012, he left for Everton but his time on Merseyside was disrupted by injury problems and joined Sunderland in 2017 to reunite with David Moyes. Gibson made 30 appearances for the Black Cats, scoring no goals, before joining Wigan and from there moving to Salford City where a couple of his former United teammates co-own.

2006/07: Craig Cathcart

Age: 31
Position: Centre-back
Man United apps: 0
Career path: Man United, Royal Antwerp (loan), Plymouth Argyle (loan), Blackpool, Watford

Cathcart was on the brink of making his United debut in 2007 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Unfortunately for the Belfast-born defender he never made a first-team appearance for the club but spent the last few seasons playing regularly in the top-flight with Watford. He has remained at Watford following their relegation to the Championship, starting 14 of their 15 games so far this season.

2007/08: Danny Welbeck

Age: 30
Position: Striker
Man United apps: 142
Career path: Man United, Preston (loan), Sunderland (loan), Arsenal, Watford, Brighton

Burst onto the scene by scoring a wonder-goal on his Premier League debut against Stoke. Welbeck then excelled on loan at Sunderland before becoming a valuable player under Ferguson. He was sold to Arsenal in 2014 after finding himself out-of-favour under Louis van Gaal. Welbeck managed 32 goals in 126 appearances for the Gunners and following a return from a serious knee injury he’d join Watford last summer but only made 20 appearances across all competitions (scoring three goals) thanks to injury. He left Watford at the end of the season but remained in the Premier League, joining Brighton.

2008/09: Federico Macheda

Age: 29
Position: Striker
Man United apps: 36
Career path: Lazio, Man United, Sampdoria (loan), QPR (loan), Stuttgart (loan), Doncaster Rovers (loan), Birmingham (loan), Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest (loan), Novara, Panathinaikos

It looked as though United had uncovered a gem when Macheda scored two crucial goals to help them win the Premier League in 2008-09, including a last-minute winner against Aston Villa. He struggled to build on that brilliant start, though and is currently plying his trade with Panathinaikos. Greece seems to be a good home for Macheda, however, with the Italian scoring 28 goals in 74 appearances across all competitions.

2009/10: Will Keane

Age: 27
Position: Striker
Man United apps: 3
Career path: Man United, Wigan (loan), QPR (loan), Sheffield Wednesday (loan), Preston (loan), Hull City, Ipswich Town (loan), Ipswich Town, Wigan Athletic

Awarded the trophy after netting 13 goals in 26 U18 matches, Keane went on to make his United debut in December 2011. Incredibly, he had to wait a further five years to play for the first-team again, featuring twice, before joining Hull permanently in 2016. From there he joined Ipswich Town, initially on loan and then permanently, before joining Wigan over the summer.

2010/11: Ryan Tunnicliffe

Age: 27
Position: Central midfield
Man United apps: 2
Career path: Man United, Peterborough (loan), Barnsley (loan), Ipswich (loan), Fulham, Blackburn (loan) Wigan (loan), Millwall, Luton

Tunnicliffe was a key member of United’s 2011 FA Youth Cup-winning team, starring alongside Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison in midfield. He made two appearances in the League Cup but left to sign for Fulham in 2014. Tunnicliffe is now turning out for Luton.

2011/12: Mats Moller Daehli

Age: 25
Position: Attacking midfield
Man United apps: 0
Career path: Man United, Molde, Cardiff City, SC Freiburg, St Pauli (loan), St Pauli, KRC Genk

The talented Norwegian playmaker left in 2013 to link up with United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde. The pair then ended up at Cardiff City together, too, but Daehli moved to Germany six months after the Bluebirds’ relegation from the Premier League. Daehli is currently at KRC Genk.

2012/13: Ben Pearson

Age: 25
Position: Central midfield
Man United apps: 0
Career path: Man United, Barnsley (loan), Preston

Pearson beat Adnan Januzaj to the award in 2013 but unlike the talented winger, he was unable to force his way into the first-team squad. Following an impressive year-long loan at Barnsley, Pearson earned a permanent transfer to Preston in January 2016, where he has developed into one of the most highly-rated midfielders in the Championship.

2013/14: James Wilson

Age: 24
Position: Striker
Man United apps: 20
Career path: Man United, Brighton (loan), Derby County (loan), Sheffield United (loan), Aberdeen (loan), Salford City

Made a dream start to his professional career by scoring twice on his debut in a Premier League win over Hull City in Ryan Giggs’ first game in charge as manager. Wilson spent the majority of the 2015/16 season on loan at Brighton and was enjoying a spell with Derby County before suffering a serious knee injury which cut short his campaign. He was then sent to Sheffield United and then Aberdeen and is now at Salford City where he has scored five in 14.

2014/15: Axel Tuanzebe

Age: 23
Position: Centre-back
Man United apps: 23
Career path: Man United, Aston Villa (loan)

After being tipped to make a breakthrough in the 2016/17 campaign, Jose Mourinho said: “Axel is one of the boys that’s in the academy who is more close to playing with us.”

The youngster debuted against Arsenal in 2016 before being loaned to Aston Villa twice until Solskjaer made him part of his first-team squad and he’s even captained the Red Devils against hometown club Rochdale.

2015/16: Marcus Rashford

Age: 23
Position: Striker
Man United apps: 230
Career path: Man United

Scored twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland in February 2016 and hasn’t looked back. Now an integral member of the United squad, Rashford has already struck over 60 goals for his hometown club and enjoyed the greatest season of his career to date with 22 goals in 44 appearances.

Away from the pitch, Rashford emerged as an exceptional role model during the lockdown period, raising £20m for charity to feed schoolchildren during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as learning sign language to judge a poetry competition at a deaf school. His campaigning earned Rashford an MBE and he continues to fight for children in poverty.

2016/17: Angel Gomes

Age: 20
Position: Attacking midfield
Man Utd apps: 10
Career path: Man United, Lille, Boavista (loan)

Angel Gomes, who joined Man United aged 13, managed 12 goals and six assists in 19 games with the youth team in 2015-16.

The London-born creative midfielder became the youngest ever Manchester United player to score a hat-trick at academy level since 2001 — he was 15 years, 11 months and 29 days. However, that proved to one of his high points at Old Trafford, with Gomes having signed for French side Lille in the summer, being immediately loaned out to Boavista.

His godfather is former United winger Nani.

2017/18: Tahith Chong

Age: 20
Position: Winger
Man Utd apps: 16
Career path: Man United, Werder Bremen (loan)

Chong beat off competition from fellow contenders Lee O’Connor, who was second, and third-placed James Garner to 2017/18’s trophy.

The Curacao-born winger had been struggling with a knee injury before returning to United’s youth set-up in November 2017 where he scored against Manchester City’s Under-18s.

Since then, Chong has continued to impress in the academy and was awarded a first Man Utd appearance last season, coming on as a second-half substitute during the club’s 2-0 win against Reading in the FA Cup.

Chong made 12 appearances during 2019/20 and signed a new contract with the club in March after much speculation that he could leave. He will spend 2020/21 on loan at Bundesliga side Werder Bremen.

2018/19: Mason Greenwood

Age: 19
Position: Striker
Man United apps: 64
Career path: Man United

Mason Greenwood made history when he became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer in European competition after registering against Astana early last season. A lot was being written about him prior to debuting under Solskjaer, with the Norwegian coach describing him as the best finisher at the club, oft-compared to Robin van Persie. The Bradford-born forward has so far held up to the comparison, with 19 senior goals already to his name.

2019/20: Anthony Elanga

Age: 18
Position: Left-winger
Man United apps: 0
Career path: Man United

The latest winner of the award, Anthony Elanga has caught the eye of those watching the Man United youth teams, having scored seven goals in just nine games for the Under 18s last season. His future is bright