Promising midfielder Ben Pearson gave his first big interview to Inside United recently...
So, Ben, you're celebrating a decade at the club...
Yes, I've been here since I was eight. I was out injured the year before last so that was hard but it actually helped. I started off by not playing much in my first year in the youth team and then got an illness. Coming back made me a bit hungrier. I wanted it a little more. I got straight back in the team and luckily, through injuries elsewhere and playing well myself, I kicked on.
How did it feel to win the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award?
It was a massive achievement, and I certainly didn't expect it, but I played well. We had quite a good season overall, apart from the FA Youth Cup. It was a bit of a freak game against Burnley and we were a bit unlucky. I played in both legs of the semi-final against Chelsea a year earlier and they had a good team. I know a few of their lads from England and they were a strong side.
How did you find the experience of the UEFA Youth League this season?
It was a bit of a mismatched squad as we had a mix of youth-team players and first-team pros. We did have a week's training as a group before each game but had not played together too much. So we did all right but every other other team we played had an Under-19 squad and it made things harder. We did okay in some parts of games but were disappointing in others. Nicky Butt said to us we had some excellent 45 minutes and some others were just poor.
Was the strict refereeing part of the overall learning experience?
We had too many sendings off but every tackle seemed to result in a yellow card. I'm glad we played in it and just hope it can keep going for generations to come because it's great experience. You play abroad, travel with the first team and are on the plane with them before going to the senior games that night.