The Reds' retiring youth-football director Jim Ryan recently spoke to Inside United about his time as a player...
When I was 17, playing for a team called Cowie Hearts, I was approached after a game by a Scottish scout who asked me to come down to United for a trial, originally for two weeks, but that ended up being a month. I didn’t think I played very well in my first trial game, but I did pretty well in the second game and obviously did enough! [Jim joined United in 1963.]
It was at West Brom [May 1966, 3-3 draw]. I didn’t think I played particularly brilliantly. Still, it was one of those days where your head’s in a whirl. I had been playing really well in the Reserves and some of the lads had predicted that I would get a first-team game soon, so I anticipated it but I was still incredibly nervous.
I think it was my home debut against Aston Villa [five days after his first-team debut, in a 6-1 win]. I scored with my left foot, which was a collector’s piece in itself. I clipped it nicely – just enough to get it over the line!
That goal against Villa was my favourite of those that I scored, but I always remember being involved in the build-up to a very important goal against Gornik Zabrze, in that my shot was back-heeled in by Brian Kidd [February 1968, European Cup quarter-final, United won 2-0]. That turned out to be a crucial goal because we lost the second leg and that goal got us through.
Best player I played with
Everybody says Best, Law and Charlton, so I sometimes think Nobby Stiles must be invisible! He was also a World Cup winner, a European Cup winner and a league champion, which seems to be overlooked. But Best, Law and Charlton always get the limelight, and they were all