Where today stands the invincible Man Utd youth team of 2003 including Chris Eagles, Gerard Pique and Tom Heaton

GARY NEVILLE says the current Manchester United first team have almost no chance of winning this year’s Premier League.

The Red Devils have not lifted the famous trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in 2012/13.

Manchester United defeated Middlesbrough in two legs in 2003


Manchester United defeated Middlesbrough in two legs in 2003Photo credit: Getty

But there’s another competition they used to dominate that United haven’t won in a while.

The FA Youth Cup has returned to Old Trafford ten times, but United haven’t won it in over a decade.

Victory over Middlesbrough in the 2003 final is one of the club’s most famous youth triumphs, with a squad full of academy talent and Neville watching from the stands.

But what happened to the 2003 squad? While some made brilliant careers, others took very different paths.


Heaton was a mainstay of United’s youth and reserve sides following his move from Wrexham in 2002.

But the goalkeeper never found a foothold with the senior side and eventually joined Cardiff in 2010.

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A successful move to Burnley and a handful of England caps soon followed before Heaton was taken over by Aston Villa after a serious injury.

That move didn’t go as planned and he was sacked in the summer before returning to United for the 2021-22 season.

Tom Heaton returns to Manchester United this season to act as third choice


Tom Heaton returns to Manchester United this season to act as third choice


Where do you start with one of the best defenders the game has ever seen?

Pique famously joined United from Barcelona’s famed academy La Masia and clinched Premier League and Champions League titles with the senior team.

But in 2008 the lure of a return to the Nou Camp proved too great and he returned to Spain to add to his trophy case.

Eight La Liga titles, three more Champions League medals, a World Cup and a European Championship followed as Pique wrote his name in football history books.

Gerard Pique lifted pretty much every trophy in the game


Gerard Pique lifted pretty much every trophy in the gamePhoto credit: AFP


At the other end of the spectrum sits Pique’s 2003 centre-back partner, Lee Sims.

The defender was sacked just a year after United won the Youth Cup and an unsuccessful trial in Cardiff saw him leave the game entirely.


Phil Bardsley ranks somewhere between spades and sims when it comes to professional success.

The right-back joined United’s first-team in 2005/06 before moving to Sunderland in 2008.

A solid career at the Stadium of Light followed before moving to Stoke and Burnley to ensure Bardsley remained a Premier League player.

But his most famous moment probably came when he knocked out pal Wayne Rooney while sparring in the England striker’s kitchen.

Phil Bardsley found a home in Burnley after Old Trafford


Phil Bardsley found a home in Burnley after Old TraffordPhoto credit: Vision House


McShane joined United a year before the 2003 win but never appeared as a senior for the club.

The Republic of Ireland defender had a career at West Brom, Sunderland and Reading – and scored a famous goal on the final day of the 2012/13 season to send Hull into the Premier League.

McShane is now retired and has come full circle to return as a manager in United’s youth department.

Paul McShane has had a solid career after leaving United


Paul McShane has had a solid career after leaving UnitedPhoto credit: Getty


The 2003 skipper is another who failed to make it as a senior player at United.

But the midfielder has played in the top flight with the likes of Derby, Wolves and Burnley.

Jones is now turning to coaching with some famous faces – the 36-year-old has signed as player-manager at Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham.


Eagles were hailed as a star at United, making their first-team debut six months after their Youth Cup triumph.

But the promising start to his senior career faltered and he only made 17 appearances for the club before joining Burnley in 2008.

A number of other moves followed before the 35-year-old retired from Oldham in January 2020.

He recently got into trouble with the law after being found “drunk and barefoot” in the driver’s seat of his £70,000 Audi.

Chris Eagles is another United prospect who has moved to Burnley


Chris Eagles is another United prospect who has moved to BurnleyPhoto credit: Dave Pinegar – The Sun


The 2003 side’s enforcer never experienced the heady heights of life in the United first-team.

Collett was named the club’s young player of the year in 2003 and was even named a senior professional by Fergie.

But a horror broken leg soon forced him to retire from football and Collett was awarded £4.3million in compensation in 2008.


Richardson is arguably the biggest known name after Pique from the 2003 squad.

The left winger established himself in the United first-team, making 81 appearances for the club in five years.

Premier League titles and caps for England soon followed before leaving for Sunderland in 2007.

Kieran Richardson joined Sunderland after capturing caps for England


Kieran Richardson joined Sunderland after capturing caps for EnglandPhoto credit: Action Images – Reuters


Ebanks-Blake is another United youth star whose career was marred by a broken leg.

A senior international debut was followed by a broken leg at the end of the 2004/05 season and the striker left Old Trafford shortly thereafter.

He enjoyed successful spells at Plymouth and Wolves but an injury curse seemed to hang over his career, with two more broken legs before hanging up his boots in 2019.

Giuseppe Rossi

Fellow striker Rossi is another United prospect who has struggled with injury woes throughout his career.

The US-born Italian showed promise at United before forcing a move to Villarreal in a desperate bid to get more playing time.

He scored goals in Spain before moving to Serie A side Fiorentina, but serious knee injuries ended his prime.

Rossi narrowly escaped a doping ban after failing a test in 2018 and retired last year after joining Real Salt Lake City.

Italy's Giuseppe Rossie saw his career hampered by injury


Italy’s Giuseppe Rossie saw his career hampered by injuryCredit: Sportsfile – Subscription

Luke Steele

Heaton’s rival between the sticks, Steele, was another tip for success at United.

But with the likes of Edwin Van Der Sar, Tim Howard and Ben Foster ahead of him in the senior pecking order, Steele never really stood a chance.

Steele has worked for as many as 13 clubs during his career and the 37-year-old now plays in Notts County in the National League.


Lawrence’s Youth Cup glory was soon followed by a loan spell to Shrewsbury Town in the Conference.

An injury on loan ended his fledgling career and he was soon sacked by United.


Howard was a classmate of Bardsley’s but never had the same success on the pitch as the veteran right-back.

After his sacking in 2006, he moved to Denmark to play for Brondby under Rene Meulensteen – who in turn joined United as first-team manager.

David Poole

Winger Poole left Old Trafford in 2005 for a career in the minor leagues.

He played across the country in Yeovil Town and Stockport County before ending his career with Hyde in the Northern Premier League.


Johnson was one of many players released in 2006, with Bradford being his first landing zone.

An injury prevented a promising start at Valley Parade, and Johnson finally retired in 2012 after a stint in the United States with Portland Timbers.

Watch ruthless Aston Villa fans troll Cristiano Ronaldo with ‘Siu’ celebrations after famous win over Man Utd

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/3743176/where-manchester-united-2003-fa-cup-youth-team/ Where today stands the invincible Man Utd youth team of 2003 including Chris Eagles, Gerard Pique and Tom Heaton


ClareFora is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: clarefora@dailynationtoday.com.

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