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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Whatever Happened To.....Manchester United Youth Cup Winners 1992


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As the 2010/11 season is about to begin, this may be the last campaign for Old Trafford superstars, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville . If so, their retirements would finally break the link to the famous FA Youth Cup winning side of 1992.

On average, barely half of FA Youth Cup winning sides have decent careers in professional football- even fewer stay in the top flight. Incredible then, that the United side that beat Crystal Palace contained no fewer than seven future internationals.

The seven were David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Neville and Giggs, plus Robbie Savage, Keith Gillespie and the less well-known Simon Davies, who made a single appearance for Wales. Giggs was a sub having already broken into the United first team, as was Gillespie who established himself in the Youth team in the next season.

Paul Scholes and Phil Neville are often cited as being part of this group but the up and coming talent from Salford and the younger Neville only made the team for the 1993 final, which United lost to Leeds. Phil Neville was young enough to captain the lesser-known 1995 side which also won the trophy.

The 1992 line-up was Kevin Pilkington; John O'kane, George Switzer, Chris Casper, Gary Neville (c); David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Simon Davies, Ben Thornley; Colin McKee, Robbie Savage.

Subs; Giggs, Gillespie, Joe Roberts and Leonard Taylor

Chris Casper was extemely well thought of and captained the England Youth side. He couldn't break into the United first team and moved to Reading where aged just 24, a double leg fracture ended his career in 1999. He moved into coaching and became the League's youngest manager with Bury.Since leaving Bury he returned to Old Trafford as a youth team coach.

Scottish forward Colin McKee also found it difficult to get a break at Old Trafford and made just one appearance- he joined Kilmarnock and played 78 times for Killie before playing for several lower division sides, though never for more than a handful of games. He quit the pro game in 2001.

Defender George Switzer never made a first team start and his pro career never took off. For many years he played for local non-league side Hyde United. O'Kane had stints with Everton, Bolton and Blackpool, plus loan spells at Burnley and Bradford City. By 2003 he had also moved into non-league with Hyde.

Ben Thornley was considered an excellent wide man but the competition from Giggs, Beckham, Andrei Kanchelskis and Lee Sharpe was intense. He was also very unlucky with fitness- one tackle in particular was the subject of legal action after the player suffered horrific injuries.

By 1998 he had just 9 starts to his name for the club and so moved on to Huddersfield Town. His stay was a mixed one and then he drifted down the divisions. By 2004 he too was in non-league.

Kevin Pilkington has had a solid career between the sticks, over 300 games, mainly at Mansfield Town and Notts County. Last season he turned out in eight league matches for Luton Town in the Blue Square Premier.

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Hugh Larkin

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