10 Manchester United Academy Stars Who Never Made the Grade

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentAugust 26, 2014

10 Manchester United Academy Stars Who Never Made the Grade

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    Manchester United have a proud history of producing their own players.

    First, there was Sir Matt Busby's Babes. Then, Sir Alex Ferguson's Class of '92.

    But for every David Beckham, there's a Ben Thornley. For every Duncan Edwards, a John Curtis.

    For every success story, there's a player who didn't quite make the grade.

    In fact, far more youngsters have slipped off the production line than made a name for themselves in the first team.

    Here's a list of 10 United academy players who didn't quite make it at Old Trafford.

    Feel free to use the comments section below to agree, disagree and add your own.

Ben Thornley

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    Ben Thornley was one of the stars of United's Class of 92 alongside Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.

    But his career was derailed by a serious knee injury in 1994.

    He played nine league games for United between 1993 and 1998 but eventually left for Huddersfield Town. He went on to play for Aberdeen, Blackpool and Bury.

Raphael Burke

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    Raphael Burke was another star for the Class of 92 who never made the grade. A quick, tricky winger, he was one of the players expected to forge a successful career at Old Trafford.

    But it never happened, and he left in 1993.

    He worked in an office and on a grocery stall before getting a job working with young footballers at Bristol City.

    He was reunited with his former United team-mates in a game against Salford City earlier this summer.

Federico Macheda

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    Federico Macheda announced himself to the United fans in spectacular fashion.

    With time ticking away against Aston Villa at Old Trafford in April 2009, the Italian striker stepped off the bench to score a last-minute winner. 

    He did the same in the next game against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

    The two goals, and two results, helped United win the title. But that was as good as it got.

    He was sent out on loan six times in four seasons before his United career finally ended this summer with a move to Cardiff.

Darron Gibson

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    Darron Gibson managed 60 games for United between 2007 and 2012. But he never managed to make himself a fixture in the team.

    His highlight was a goal against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final of the Champions League in 2010, a tie United eventually lost on away goals.

    He joined Everton in 2012 for an undisclosed fee.

John Curtis

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    John Curtis was part of the team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1995. 

    He made eight first-team appearances during the 1997/98 season and earned a call-up to the England B squad. 

    But he was sold to Blackburn for £1.5m in 2000 and played for 10 clubs over the next 10 years. He last played for Gold Coast United in Australia's A-League in 2011.

John O'Kane

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    The opening game of the 1995/96 season is remembered as the Class of 92's big introduction.

    United were beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa and Alan Hansen declared on Match of the Day that "you can't win anything with kids."

    Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes all played that day. But so did another member of the 1992 FA Youth Cup-winning team, John O'Kane, who came on as a second-half substitute.

    But it was one of only two league appearances the defender made for United. He went to play for Everton, Bolton, Blackpool and Hyde before retiring in 2006.

Simon Davies

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    Like John O'Kane, Simon Davies, another Youth Cup winner in 1992, was also in the United squad at Villa Park on August 19, 1995.

    The winger made 11 league appearances before he was sold to Luton for £150,000 in 1997. He had spells at Macclesfield and Rochdale before being named Chester manager in 2008.

    Davies, who was capped once by Wales in 1996, is now a youth-team coach at Manchester City.

Terry Cooke

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    Terry Cooke was part of the United team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1995. 

    But he only played 11 games for the first team before being sold to Manchester City for £1 million in 1999.

    He left City in 2002 after being sent out on loan four times.

    He played for Grimsby Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Colorado Rapids and North Queensland Fury before retiring in 2011.

Chris Casper

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    Chris Casper was another member of the 1992 FA Youth Cup-winning team and captained England during his youth career.

    But he only managed two league appearances for the first team and moved to Reading in 1998.

    Injury cut short his playing career in 2000, but he did take charge of Bury between 2005 and 2008. The former centre-back now works for the Premier League.

David Healy

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    Striker David Healy only made one Premier League appearance for United, as a second-half substitute against Ipswich in 2000.

    But after moving to Preston for £1.5 million in 2001, he went on to have a successful career away from Old Trafford. 

    He played for Leeds, Fulham, Sunderland and Rangers and was capped 95 times by Northern Ireland, scoring 36 goals.