Manchester United are one of the most successful football clubs in the world, so it’s no surprise they have been able to attract some huge players over the years. Red Devils supporters have been blessed to have seen names such as George Best, Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo grace Old Trafford, while also watching academy stars, most notably the Class of 92’ and the Busby Babes burst into the first team.
United’s success can be mainly put down to the work Sir Alex Ferguson and his staff achieved during his 26-year tenure as manager. The Scotsman guided the club to 38 trophies in that time, including 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League, while also developing and signing some of the best players in the world.
However, with football developing year-on-year, the need for bigger squads to ensure all fixtures are met, as well as provide competition for places within a matchday squad and injury cover, it was inevitable that Ferguson would have several players in his 26-year reign fall under the radar and find opportunities elsewhere.
With that being said, ManchesterWorld takes a look at five players you might’ve forgotten played for United. All of the names on this list featured in the club’s academy before appearing in the first team.
The full-back, who is currently without a club, began his United career when he joined the club’s academy at the age of eight. He worked his way through their youth system and eventually made his debut for their first team in a 2-0 fourth round League Cup defeat to West Brom in December 2003. The former Scottish international went on to make a further 17 appearances for the Red Devils before being sold to Sunderland in January 2008.
The 35-year-old recently hung up his boots after suffering a career-ending injury, with his last club being Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami - owned by ex-United favourite David Beckham. Shawcross also made his debut for the Red Devils in the League Cup, coming on as a second-half substitute in their 2-1 third round win against Crewe Alexandra in 2006. He went on to feature just once more for the club before departing for Stoke City in January 2008 after an initial loan spell with the Potters.
The Norwegian joined United at the age of 16 from Valerenga and initially featured for their Under-18 squad. Despite him looking like a potential first team player in the future, the forward spent the majority of his Red Devils career on loan and only made two appearances for the club between 2009 and 2013. He currently plys his trade for Turkish side Fenerbahce.
The full-back, who most recently played for Bristol City, is the only player on the list to win the Premier League with another club. Simpson was part of Leicester City’s title-winning side who shocked everyone by lifting the trophy at the end of the 2015-16 campaign. He began his career at United, making just eight first team appearances before departing for Newcastle in 2010.
The Catalan is regarded as one of the world’s best centre-back in recent years and recently announced his retirement at the beginning of November. During his playing career, he won 30 trophies at the Nou Camp, including three Champions Leagues. The former centre-back initially began his football journey at the Catalan club, before joining United, where he made 23 appearances between 2004 and 2008, and then returned to Barcelona, seeing out his playing days.