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What happened to the seven 'terrific Man Utd prospects' Alex Ferguson tipped for greatness

Mirror logo Mirror 29/10/2020 Thomas Bristow

Manchester United are well known for producing fine talent but there will always be those players who fell through the cracks.

In 2001, club legend Sir Alex Ferguson singled seven United youngsters out for praise.

"We've got some terrific prospects at Old Trafford," he said.

"Darren Fletcher, who we hope will get over his broken leg, is good.

"Michael Stewart and Luke Chadwick are doing very well, and John O'Shea's doing well too.

"There's a young left back called Paul Tierney who's doing well, as is Danny Pugh. But there's a young boy who has started now, he's 16, called Kieran Richardson.

"He's going to be a fantastic player."

So, just what happened to those terrific prospects?

Kieran Richardson

Ruud van Nistelrooy, Kieran Richardson, Wes Brown are posing for a picture: Kieran Richardson had his chance at Manchester United. © PA Kieran Richardson had his chance at Manchester United.

After one year in United's academy, 2001/02, Richardson began making first team appearances in the 2002/03 season.

His finest campaign came in 2005/06, when he made 36 first appearances. The following year, his last at United, he made 24.

Five seasons at Sunderland followed, with two apiece at Fulham and Aston Villa.

His last season campaign came at Cardiff where he made just six appearances.

At his peak, Richardson won eight England caps and scored twice.

Danny Pugh

a man holding a football ball: Danny Pugh couldn't quite cut it at United. © Reuters Danny Pugh couldn't quite cut it at United.

Despite Ferguson's name drop the defender cum midfielder only made seven appearances for United's first team.

In 2004 he moved to rivals Leeds - who were in the Championship at this point - and spent two seasons there before moving to Preston North End.

Impressing at Deepdale, Pugh was snapped up by Stoke and was on their books for five seasons - even playing in the Premier League.

A return to Leeds in the Championship followed, as did spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry City, Bury, Blackpool and finally Port Vale.

Pugh is still at the Vale today having taken up a coaching position.

John O'Shea

John O'Shea with a football ball: John O'Shea had man years at Old Trafford. © AFP/Getty Images John O'Shea had man years at Old Trafford.

One of the most successful names on this list. O'Shea certainly played his part at United.

The utility man spent 12 senior years at Old Trafford, only being loaned out twice at the start.

The Irishman made 393 appearances for United, scoring 15 goals - including one delicious chip against Arsenal.

O'Shea won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup and a Champions League at United.

He also registered 118 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

Seven seasons at Sunderland followed before he retired at Reading where he is now a first team coach.

Paul Tierney

a baseball player holding a glove: Paul Tierney in United's home colours. © Action Images Paul Tierney in United's home colours.

Winner of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2001/02, things didn't quite pan out as predicted for Paul Tierney.

After making zero Premier League appearances for United and three loan spells at Crewe, Colchester and Bradford City, Tierney was released in 2005.

Tierney spent time at Livingston, Blackpool and Stockport, never really impressing.

His last playing spell came at non-league side Altrincham but he lasted less than a month.

Michael Stewart

a man holding a football ball: A young Michael Stewart in action for United. © Allsport A young Michael Stewart in action for United.

Stewart spent between 1997 to 2005 on Manchester United's books, making eight league appearances.

The midfielder had loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Hearts before making a permanent move to Hibernian.

Stewart had better luck in Scotland, making 54 league appearances at Easter Road before moving to rivals Hearts.

Three seasons full of 87 appearances followed as he left the club my mutual consent in 2010.

A move to Turkish side Genclerbirligi followed but an injury hit Stewart left in January citing the club hadn't honoured his contract.

Stewart spent his final season at Charlton, making eight apperances.

He won four Scotland caps.

Post-playing, Stewart has appeared as pundit a few times but was suspended by BBC Scotland earlier this year following comments he made about Rangers media officer.

Luke Chadwick

Luke Chadwick with a football ball: Luke Chadwick in a classic United shirt. © PA Luke Chadwick in a classic United shirt.

Chadwick made 39 appearances in all competitions for United between 1999-2004 before moving to West Ham.

The midfielder had promise, playing 22 times in the 2000/01 season alone. He just couldn't crack it.

Spells at Stoke, Norwich, six seasons at MK Dons and two at Cambridge United followed.

He hung up his playing boots in 2015 and remained at Cambridge as a coach.

Recently, Chadwick has opened up on the abuse he suffered as a player over his looks.

"They abused me purely because of the way I looked," he said. "That was tough. It made me feel really low about myself."

Darren Fletcher

a man holding his hand up: Darren Fletcher made his impact on the United first team. © AFP/Getty Images Darren Fletcher made his impact on the United first team.

Rivals O'Shea as the most esteemed name on this list. A whopping 342 appearances between 2002 and 2015, Fletcher won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup and a Champions League.

Sadly, ulcerative colitis disrupted his latter years at Old Trafford.

The Scot spent two-and-a-half seasons at West Brom and a further two at Stoke before hanging up his boots.

He made 80 appearances for Scotland also.

Fletcher is now often seen as a pundit alongside Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes.

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