Ranked! Manchester United’s 15 best academy graduates of the last 25 years
10. Phil Neville
Neville’s best moment at United likely came in the 2004 game against Arsenal that ended the Gunners' 49-match unbeaten run. Jose Antonio Reyes’s career in England never recovered after P-Nev bullied him all afternoon.
The most enjoyable footage is his reaction to Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s winner in the 1999 Champions League Final. Neville – an unused substitute in Barcelona – celebrated like an absolute loon alongside all Reds in the crowd that evening, typifying his love for the club.
Neville went on to enjoy a successful enough career after United, too. He spent eight years at Everton, as captain for most of them, displaying the leadership qualities that are so familiar in those who played under Ferguson.
9. Darren Fletcher
Fletcher wasn't always the most popular figure among United fans, but eventually left the club with the fondest feelings from supporters. The Scottish midfielder was always a favourite with Ferguson and went on to prove himself as a valued squad member.
He could regularly be relied upon for the big games; his wrongful sending off in the 2009 Champions League Semi-Final against Arsenal meant he missed the final, and was seen as a turning point for United that season.
Since leaving United he’s gone on to captain West Brom and Stoke, which is a reflection of his excellent leadership and never-say-die attitude.
8. Marcus Rashford
If we’re to compile this list a decade from now, Rashford may well find himself higher up. To have made such an impact while still a teenager is quite some feat: Rashford has scored on his debut in every competition he’s played in, as well as three minutes into his England debut.
He can already claim goals against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, despite having only just turned 19, and is also closing in 100 appearances for club and country. The forward has the makings of a special player.
7. Nicky Butt
Pele once named Butt as his best player of the 2002 World Cup, in what was a rare moment for the midfielder to outshine his fellow graduates from the Class of ’92.
Aside from his talent, a welcome attribute of the midfielder was his ability to stand up for others. Having grown up in Gorton he was the toughest player of the bunch, and if an opponent started something with one of his team-mates, Butt would be the one to finish it.
He started the 1999 Champions League Final in the absence of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, in what was surely the most memorable occasion of his United career. Butt also played close to 400 games for the club and 39 for England before being sold to Newcastle. The midfielder wasn’t away for long though, returning as a coach, and is now in charge of United’s academy.
6. Paul Pogba
As with Rashford, Pogba’s standing on this list may well have increased by the end of his playing career. In terms of natural ability, the Frenchman is on another level – and that’s why United sanctioned the (embarrassing) move to pay £89m and bring him back to the club after the midfielder was allowed to leave as a teenager in 2012.
Pogba went on to win four league titles in four years at Juventus, plus four more domestic trophies, and made an appearance in a Champions League final.
Since his return to United he’s already scored in one final, helping his club win the Europa League and book their place in this season’s Champions League. There’s still much more to come from him.