Manchester United and home-grown players go hand in hand.
The club has a remarkable record of naming a home-grown player in every single matchday squad since October 1937, a run that is in its 83rd year and shows no signs of stopping.
Here’s a look at the best home-grown player United have produced in each of the last seven decades stretching back to the 1950s…
1950s - Bobby Charlton
United Debut: October 1956
Honours: First Division (x3), FA Cup, European Cup
A survivor of the 1958 Munich air disaster that tragically claimed the lives of eight of his friends and teammates – six of whom had been trained in the club’s youth ranks, Bobby Charlton was the shining light that never burned out and became one of the best players in the world.
To understand Charlton’s status from the late 1950s until the early 1970s, consider that he was nominated for the Ballon d’Or on nine occasions during his illustrious career.
1960s - George Best
United Debut: September 1963
Honours: First Division (x2), European Cup
George Best is arguably the most gifted footballer the United Kingdom has ever produced. But even though he left United and top level football for good at the age of just 27, the ‘Belfast Boy’ still played close to 500 games for the club and had already conquered Europe.
Best was one third of United’s fabled ‘Trinity’ alongside the aforementioned Bobby Charlton and record signing Denis Law, peaking as the club won the European Cup in 1968.
1970s - Sammy McIllroy
United Debut: November 1971
Honours: FA Cup
The 1970s is not the brightest decade in United’s storied history, even resulting in relegation at one point. But having made his senior debut in 1971, Northern Irish midfielder Sammy McIllroy was a major part in re-establishing the club in the top flight after immediate promotion.
McIllroy helped United win the FA Cup final over Liverpool in 1977, which directly denied the Merseysiders the chance to complete the treble.
1980s - Mark Hughes
United Debut: November 1983
Honours: Premier League (x2), FA Cup (x3), League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
Mark Hughes had two spells with United in his career, with the latter more famous as it coincided with Alex Ferguson’s first trophy in Manchester and the club’s new dominance of English football at the start of the Premier League era.
But Hughes had also started his career at Old Trafford, picked up as a 16-year-old school leaver in 1980. His prolific goalscoring eventually earned him a 1986 move to Barcelona.
1990s - Ryan Giggs
United Debut: March 1991
Honours: Premier League (x13), FA Cup (4), League Cup (x3), Champions League (x2), Intercontinental Cup/FIFA Club World Cup (x2)
The 1990s was United’s most successful period of youth development since the 1950s, with Alex Ferguson overseeing a renewed focus on nurturing home-grown talent.
Ryan Giggs was the first of the famed ‘Class of ‘92’ to emerge and was ultimately the most successful, staying the longest and making a club record 963 appearances over 23 years. His English record of 13 Premier League titles will almost certainly never be beaten.
2000s – Darren Fletcher
United Debut: March 2003
Honours: Premier League (x5), FA Cup, League Cup (x2), Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup
Darren Fletcher was initially billed as the ‘next David Beckham’ when he was rising through the youth ranks, but ultimately became known as a combative central midfielder.
The Scot was one of a handful of players Alex Ferguson would often rely on in the biggest games, even if they weren’t necessarily regular starters. His United career was cut short by illness at a time when he might have been in contention to become club captain.
2010s - Marcus Rashford
United Debut: February 2016
Honours: FA Cup, League Cup, Europa League
No one could have predicted the impact that Marcus Rashford would make when he was thrust into the spotlight at the age of just 18, scoring twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland and twice more on his Premier League debut against Arsenal.
Rashford has been a permanent part of the first-team squad ever since and has progressively taken on a greater role as he has started to mature into a senior professional.
Source : 90min