5 Players Who Have Emerged from Lower-League Football to Star for Manchester Utd

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5 Players Who Have Emerged from Lower-League Football to Star for Manchester Utd
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Chris Smalling and Jamie Vardy in an aerial duel.

As Manchester United prepare to take on League One opposition in the FA Cup, what better time to take a look at some of the players who have shone for the Red Devils having cut their teeth in the lower leagues?

Especially given the Premier League goalscoring charts are currently topped by a player who got his start in non-league football. Jamie Vardy firing Leicester City to the top of the table is one of this season's most remarkable stories.

And United have had plenty of remarkable stories of their own, of course. While many of the most successful players in the club's history have either been imported from abroad, signed from other top clubs or been brought through the club's own ranks, the lower leagues have always been an important scouting resource.

Most of the players on this list had already made the step up to the top flight by the time United came calling, but their times spent further down the football pyramid were vital to their developments.

There are others we could have included here. Bryan Robson made his debut for West Bromwich Albion when they were in the second tier, though by the time he was a first-team stalwart, they were firmly established in the top flight.

Morgan Schneiderlin began his time in England in the second tier then spent a season in the third, but he does not make this list because he is too young in his United career to have starred for the Red Devils.

Denis Law had a brief spell in the second tier with Huddersfield, though they were a top-flight club when he joined them.


For clarity, because several of the divisions referenced in this article have changed their names more than once in the time period covered, we will refer to the leagues by tiers rather than their names at the time.

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