19 years after Paul McShane won the FA Youth Cup with Man Utd, the youth team is on the verge of playing at Old Trafford once more.
Paul McShane was 17 years old, living with Tom Heaton in a shared house, and had only returned from Ireland nine months earlier when he won the FA Youth Cup. Even after over two decades, he still thinks of it being one of the highlights of his professional career.
As a player/coach with Manchester United’s Under-23s, McShane, 36, has returned to the club in an unusual role. He hasn’t competed since October, but he’s having a great time as a full-time coach. Retirement is near.
It’s a big week for the school again. In the Youth Cup quarterfinals against Leicester on Thursday night, the Under-18s will have the honor of playing at Old Trafford for the second time this month, just as McShane did in the final 19 years ago.
The former Republic of Ireland national was a standout in United’s 2003 two-leg victory over Middlesbrough. Kieron Richardson is the lone member of the McShane class to have appeared in at least 50 games for the first team after winning the United Youth Cup with his team.
Over the course of two legs, United defeated Middlesbrough 3-1 next to David Beckham, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to win the Youth Cup in 1997.
He said, “I’d say there were two or three,” McShane said. “I remember coming into the training ground the next few days and feeling amazing, like I was 10 feet tall, and seeing David Beckham and Roy Keane, Gary Neville, and the rest of the Class of 92 as well as all of the foreign players congrats on your victory in the Youth Cup.
The academy is in the midst of another crucial period. On Thursday night, Manchester United’s Under-18s face Leicester inside the quarter-finals of the Youth Cup at Old Trafford, much like McShane faced in the final 19 years ago.
In United’s 2003 two-legged victory over Middlesbrough, a former Republic of Ireland national shone out. Kieron Richardson is the lone member of the McShane class to have appeared in at least 50 games for the first team after winning the United States Youth Cup as a team.
Nineteen years ago at Old Trafford, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer witnessed United’s 3-1 victory against Middlesbrough in the Youth Cup final.
McShane told the MEN, “I suppose a couple came down.” You walk into training and feel like a 10-footer, with David Beckham and Roy Keane, Gary Neville’s Class of 92 and the rest of the overseas players complimenting you on winning the Youth Cup. That’s what lingers in my mind.”
“Speaking with Beckham afterward was the highlight of the experience for me.” He was reminiscing about the moment he won it, and David Beckham, who was also 17 at the time, had the same experience.
There was a palpable sense of anticipation in the air, and you’d see several fans boarding the team bus as you made your way inside the stadium.