Many fans will remember you wearing those tights at Eastlands in 2005…
I was thinking about that the other day, funnily enough – probably because it’s getting a bit colder! I was coming back from a hamstring injury, it was cold and I’d trained in them that week, so it was just precautionary, really. I don’t think I’d have started the game in them, though! I took my jogging bottoms off and the gaffer gave me a dirty look – he didn’t even know I was wearing them. I think I’ve got away with it since, although I got a lot of whistles from the crowd at the time!
What do you recall of your switch from City to United as a 14-year-old?
I was at City for two years but didn’t really enjoy it. I was always a United fan and had the opportunity to train with them for a week. After that the manager came to my house and asked if I would sign for United and there was no hesitation, purely because I was a United fan and had had such a great time the week before. Nowadays the academies are set up for kids from the age of seven or eight, but back then it was the little things that stuck in your mind. I was 12 or 13 and had been to Bury and Preston, and some southern teams were also interested in me. But I just got a good vibe when I came to United – Brian Kidd looked after me, the manager obviously made a big impression, and it was those little things that helped.
There was a feeling that City were getting all the best young talent in Manchester at that time. Is that true?
City had a great youth team around that time with a lot of good players – Paul Lake, David White, Ian Brightwell. Our manager had had a good youth system at Aberdeen and wondered why the biggest club in the world were not getting the best youngsters in their own area. So he rejigged the scouting system and brought in the likes of Kidd and Les Kershaw to get the best players, and you saw the fruits of that in the years after with Scholesy, Becks, myself and other players coming through. United should be getting the best players because of what they can offer – they are not scared to field players at an early age if they’re good enough.