Young Reds keeper reveals why he chose United over a host of Premier League clubs...
Name: Gary Woods
Strengths: I’d say my strengths are my kicking, my shot-stopping and communicating with the defence. I’ve got good concentration on the pitch, but less so in the classroom!
Things I can work on: I think I need to work on my cross-taking. A lot of that is to do with positioning as well, so I try to work on that in training with the coaches and the other goalkeepers. It’s about being able to work out your angles for all different types of situations in a game, which is obvious vital for a goalkeeper. I’ve learnt a lot from older players like Tom Heaton, who’s really helpful and offers lots of advice.
A player at United I admire: Van der Sar. He’s always been a favourite of mine in terms of goalkeepers. You only have to look at what he’s achieved in the game to see that he’s one of the best in the world.
I first got spotted: I was playing for Cambridge United and I heard there was a scout at the game. I didn’t know which club he was from. After the game the scout came up to me and said he was going to watch me again, and a week after that I was offered a trial. I was so shocked! Then I found out there were quite a few clubs interested. In the end, it came down to a decision between United and Arsenal. There was no contest really. I’m actually a Chelsea fan. My dad’s dad grew up near the ground and I’ve just followed the family trend.
Life at United: To be able to watch him at close quarters is a big help for any young goalkeeper. But there’s also the likes of Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak, and you learn from all of their different styles. I try to watch them all in games and look at their positioning and compare it to my own. You learn a lot by just watching.
In five years I will be: I’d like to have progressed into the first-team squad. You have to aim to be no.1, no matter how difficult that may be to achieve. That’s my aim.
Best moment in football: Probably when I made my debut for England U16s in the Victory Shield in Scotland. It was a great experience. We lost a goal early on, but we bounced back from that, and just playing for my country was a big achievement.
Most embarrassing moment: When I was playing for Peterborough United I waited too long to clear a ball and ended up kicking it in off the forward. Mistakes like that are a nightmare