"Adnan only wanted to sign for Manchester United and that's the truth. There was loads of competition - there is all the time - and the boy and his family deserve full credit for the fact that they just wanted to come to Manchester United. It was a real coup for the Academy."
Januzaj moved to Manchester in March 2011, only to find his patience immediately tested by bureaucratic issues. "I had to wait for the paperwork to come through on the transfer," he said. "It was just a case of training hard, even though I wasn't playing, and just thinking: I don't know but maybe tomorrow it will come through'. So I was just hoping to do my best."
Starved of action for the remainder of the 2010/11 campaign and the start of the following season, Adnan finally made his bow for Paul McGuinness' U18s in October 2011 and operated impressively as either a striker or support striker. His steady form was cruelly curtailed after just 11 outings, however, by a serious knee injury.
"I had never had an injury before and that was the first one," recalled the teenager, whose rehabilitation included a spell at Nike HQ in Portland. "You learn a lot when you are injured. The gym helps as well because you are getting stronger and doing different things that are all parts of football. So it was actually a good experience even if I hope not to be injured again! After that, I came back and wanted to show the coaches what I could do."
While it was U21s manager Warren Joyce who was given the most sustained contact with Januzaj during his six-month battle for fitness, Sir Alex Ferguson also keenly monitored the youngster's recovery. Just six days after making his second-string debut against Accrington Stanley in August 2012's Lancashire Senior Cup final, Januzaj travelled with Ferguson's senior squad to a pre-season friendly at Aberdeen.
Although the travelling party comprised a mish-mash of current and former players, his 45-minute cameo demonstrated an invaluable maturity and confidence. Quinton Fortune, one of his team-mates at Pittodrie, insists that even then, the youngster's card had been marked. "Everyone knew that he was special," said the South African. "Adnan was making so much progress and when he went to train with the first team, the lads were talking about him."
Over the course of the 2012/13 campaign proper, Adnan laid bare his assets across 24 injury-free outings for Joyce's side and a further four starts in the U18s. Superior football intelligence elevated him above opponents, while his arsenal of trickery, balletic balance and deft use of the ball took