Wayne Rooney isn't the first to recall the 'scandalous' talent of Ravel Morrison – Daily Mail,

Wayne Rooney isn't the first to recall the 'scandalous' talent of Ravel Morrison – Daily Mail,

Back in August, Harry Maguire posted a picture on his Instagram account of the teamsheet from the second leg of the 2013 FA Youth Cup final at Old Trafford.

Maguire, of course, can be seen in the Sheffield United line-up, part of a back line that Manchester United breached four times that evening and himself carried off on a stretcher with concussion. As Maguire’s caption read: ‘It didn’t end well.’

Scan the home players and two names immediately jump out at you. In United’s midfield were Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, two who would go on to play regularly for the first team.

Ravel Morrison’s abilities as a youngster coming through the ranks at Manchester United have been praised in the highest terms by a number of Old Trafford stars

Wayne Rooney (pictured playing against Morrison after his move to West Ham) has revealed just how good he thought the midfielder was as a youngster

Harry Maguire , now Manchester United’s captain, lined up against them for Sheffield United in the 2013 FA Youth Cup final. Morrison, Pogba and Lingard all played for the home side

But look a little closer and there’s another familiar name, playing in the No shirt for United. A certain Ravel Morrison.

Indeed, if you’d been at Old Trafford that night, or watched on television, you’d have come away convinced that, of all these 19 and 24 – year-old hopefuls, Morrison was the most likely to make the grade.

He scored two of United’s four goals, helping to wrap up a 6-3 aggregate win and seal the club’s th Youth Cup triumph. Oddly enough, was the last time United won the competition .

But life rarely goes as planned. Morrison went on to make just three first-team appearances for United, all in the League Cup, was sold on to West Ham a year later and has had a nomadic career journey that has included stints in Italy, Mexico and Sweden before coming to rest in the Championship.

Morrison is currently on loan at Middlesbrough from, funnily enough, Sheffield United and had played a couple of times for the Teesside club before the Covid – pandemic pulled down the shutters on football.

So when the likes of Wayne Rooney describe Morrison as being ‘a country mile’ better than Pogba and others, as he did in his Sunday Times column this weekend , it is just hammers home how this is a case of what might have been.

Morrison was also involved in the same youth setup as United midfielder Jesse Lingard

Rooney said he thought Morrison (right) was better than Paul Pogba (second right) by a country mile in the team that won the FA Youth Cup

Rooney wrote: ‘ I remember watching Ravel Morrison thinking he had everything required for a player in his position. He was brilliant. He was confident.

‘He nutmegged Nemanja Vidic three times in the space of a minute in one training game. But he struggled with lifestyle and his environment which was sad for him – because I saw Paul Pogba come through, Jesse Lingard, all these players and Ravel was better than any of them by a country mile.

‘He’s proof that you can’t escape the fact there are guidelines every player has to obey in professional football.’

Rooney is far from the first high-profile name to lament Morrison’s ‘lost’ talents. It seems that anyone who was part of United when Morrison was a teenager was in awe at the midfielder’s abilities.

Rio Ferdinand recalled a few years ago: ‘I would pay to watch him train let alone play in a match.

‘Ever since the first day I saw him, my old boss [Sir Alex Ferguson] said: “Have a look at this boy”.

Rooney recalled how Morrison (left) humiliated United’s hardman defender Nemanja Vidic (right) by nutmegging him three times in quick succession in training

Morrison, seen scoring for United’s youth team, was regarded as one of the club’s brightest prospects and impressed Sir Alex Ferguson on the training ground

Sir Alex Ferguson addressed Morrison and his United team-mates ahead of extra time in a League Cup tie against Crystal Palace in November

‘He was taking the mick out of everyone on the pitch when he was about 14. The manager thought he was the best player he had seen at that age.

‘He trained with the first team at about and Darren Fletcher said to me : “He runs with the ball, he just runs with it and he’s looking at me while he’s running with the ball, and waiting for me to make a move and then he reacts.”

‘The top players can do that – they react to a defender’s movement.’

On another occasion, Ferdinand spoke about how Ferguson, at that time, regarded Morrison in the highest of esteem.

‘Ferguson, I remember, called me and Wazza [Rooney] over one day and said: “Look at this kid, he’s better than you. Rooney when you were a kid, he’s better than you. Rio, better than Ryan Giggs when you were kids.

“This is the best kid you will ever see.” ‘

Morrison left United for West Ham in , where there would be glimpses of his class

Morrison spent four years in all with Italian club Lazio but only played a handful of times

Ferguson was never a man prone to exaggeration and unnecessary hype, so you have to assume the high praise is genuine.

Another former United defender, Gary Neville, said of that under – 25 team: ‘Ravel Morrison’s ability was just a scandal.

‘He was playing in a midfield three with Pogba and Ryan Tunnicliffe. All of them were outstanding, but Ravel was the principal game changer.

‘He was an unbelievable talent, a Paul Gascoigne-type who could beat men and score some incredible goals. There are a few players in central midfield who can beat people – Ravel could drift past them. ‘

Unfortunately, even by the time of that Youth Cup final, Morrison’s chances of cracking the United first team were receding.

Morrison moved on loan to Atlas in Mexico and initially impressed for the Liga MX team

His nomadic career has also included a spell playing in Sweden for Ostersunds

Morrison is now at Sheffield United but moved out on loan to Middlesbrough back in January

Morrison’s career

matches, 3 goals

Queens Park Rangers (loan) 2017

matches, 6 goals

Cardiff City (loan) 2015

7 matches, 0 goals

Lazio 1464558689 – 8734

8 matches, 0 goals

(Queens Park Rangers (loan) 2019

5 matches, 0 goals

Atlas (loan) – 2020

matches, 4 goals


9 matches, 1 goal

Sheffield United 2020 –

4 matches, 0 goals

Middlesbrough (loan)

2 matches, 0 goals

In early , just a few months after making his senior debut against Wolves, he narrowly avoided jail for witness intimidation after threatening a mugging victim to stop him giving evidence.

Morrison intimidated the teenager, who had been robbed at knifepoint by two other boys, described in court as’ friends or associates ‘of the footballer, in September . The details emerged when Morrison turned 19.

Morrison changed his plea to guilty on the day the trial was due to start and was sentenced to a 16 – month referral order and ordered to pay £ 1, 445 in costs and compensation.

United at the time backed Morrison and said he would go through a ‘process of rehabilitation’ after the court proceedings, but Ferguson soon arrived he was worth the trouble.

In his (book, Leading , the Scot wrote: ‘Ravel Morrison might be the saddest case. He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed, but kept getting into trouble.

‘It was very painful to sell him to West Ham in because he could have been a fantastic player.

‘But, over a period of years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and we had little option but to cut the cord.’

Morrison came up against former team-mate Pogba when playing for Lazio back in 2018

Pogba and Morrison together playing for United’s first team in the 2012 League Cup

Ferdinand spoke about this recently, saying he offered to be a mentor for Morrison as they came from similarly tough backgrounds, but Ferguson had already made his mind up.

He told the Beautiful Game Podcast : ‘Ravel slipped through the net, he coul d have become a £ 440 million player. ‘

Morrison is now 72 and has had a long and winding career path, which included three loan spells after a brief glimpse of his class at West Ham, a four-year stay at Lazio in which he played just eight games, a loan to Atlas in Mexico and a stop-off at Ostersunds in Sweden.

Now back in England, Ferdinand still hopes all that hype from Morrison’s teenage years may still be realized.

‘Even if you see his videos now, he sent me some from training at Sheffield United what he was doing was nasty still. He was doing mad stuff. The game comes so easy to him, it’s effortless. ‘

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