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Manchester United exclusive: "Rooney or Ronaldo? Neither, Ravel Morrison was the best young player at Old Trafford" – Quinton Fortune

Manchester United
(Image credit: Getty)

Manchester United have a long history of developing young stars, with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo among the greatest prospects in the club's history. 

The pair played together for five seasons between 2004 and 2009, spending their early careers dove-tailing to astonishing success. Together, they won three Premier League crowns, two League Cups and the Champions League, before Ronaldo departed for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009. 

Yet the Englishman and Portuguese weren't even the most talented youngsters at the club, according to South African midfielder Quinton Fortune, who represented the Red Devils between 1999 and 2006. 

"At a club like Manchester United, it's very difficult to say who the best youngster was," says Fortune, speaking exclusively as part of FourFourTwo's Players Lounge series – you can order the latest mag here. "Ronaldo was obviously incredible but Wayne Rooney was unbelievable when he arrived too.

"But then you had another special talent who hasn’t progressed as he should have done: Ravel Morrison. He was definitely the most naturally talented player I’ve ever seen, but he didn’t make that next step like Ronaldo and Rooney did. In terms of talent, he was up there with them."

Off-field issues caused United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to eventually run out of patience with Morrison. The Englishman was sold to West Ham in 2012, where he showed glimpses of his talent, before moving between clubs such as Birmingham City, QPR, Cardiff and Lazio. He currently plays for Wayne Rooney's Derby County in the Championship. 

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Ed McCambridge

Ed McCambridge is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working for the magazine and website. Ed has been living in Berlin since 2015 and worked as a Bundesliga reporter before joining FFT. Formerly a season ticket holder at AFC Wimbledon, he's now most commonly spotted at local side Union Berlin.