Danny Higginbotham came through United's youth system before joining Derby County in July 2000. Having gone on to forge a distinguished career in English football, the Manchester-born defender explains to ManUtd.com the benefits of a Red upbringing...
“There are so many players who haven’t established themselves as first team players at United, but have done well elsewhere. To make it at United, you have to be in the top percent of players in the world. Look at the players who are there - they’d get into the majority of the teams in Europe. It’s nothing against you if you don’t make it there.
"The way you’re brought up at United is that you get nothing without hard work. Sir Alex enforced that, and he has to take a lot of credit for the club's success with youth. I remember being in the B team, at around 16, we were playing Manchester City, and he took us all into his office to emphasise the importance of winning the game - and we did.
"To see a manager who’d done so much in the game to take the time out to talk to us and explain the situation of how big the game was, even at that age, was something the young lads really appreciated, because he didn’t have to do anything like that.
"I remember when he told me that Derby were interested in me, he was great. He just told me to think about it. There was a lot of competition at the time, and I thought it was a great chance for me to be playing regular Premier League football. It's hard to leave your boyhood club, but the time was right for me.
"When one door closes, another opens, and it’s up to you to show that you’ve got what it takes – the ability and the right head on your shoulders - and being brought up at United usually means you have both."