The rise and rise of Alejandro Garnacho

Friday 10 May 2024 10:00

It’s fair to say Alejandro Garnacho’s short, but impactful, Manchester United career so far has been played before crowds of drastically different sizes.

The livewire forward joined our Academy at 16 and during the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning Manchester was in lockdown and he could not leave the house. That meant his only initial contact with club staff was via video calls, completing workout sessions and beginning to learn English from home. 

Patience was the key and Garna’s first year in England was challenging, but the support of our Academy and his family helped him to flourish. He quickly became an important player in our youth sides and was soon playing in front of 5,000 fans at Old Trafford - and scoring, too.

'I can remember it like it was yesterday' Video

'I can remember it like it was yesterday'

Lifeblood clip | Garna sits down with Harry Robinson to revisit the significant moments of his Academy journey...

Then came his first-team debut, against Premier League rivals Chelsea in April 2022, in front of 75,000 expectant supporters in M16.

As Alejandro explains in the first of our ‘Lifeblood’ films - coming soon to MUTV - that maiden appearance at the Theatre of Dreams will always be the most significant to him.

“Yes, I've had some nice moments with the club but I'm never going to forget this one and for me it will always be the most important,” he tells Academy expert Harry Robinson. “The day I made my debut, the first day that I was given my opportunity and I will always be grateful to the manager and to the club. And for me, it was the finest moment of my career.”

A few weeks later, Garnacho was back in the Academy set-up to star in our 3-1 FA Youth Cup final victory over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford. As you may recall, he scored twice in front of a full house and the word was officially out: we had something special on our hands. 

This Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of that success and Garna has achieved so much since then: 82 senior appearances, 14 goals, one major trophy and a full debut with Argentina.

Lifeblood: History
Alejandro Garnacho says

"I moved to Manchester when I was 16. It was very tough to leave all my family behind, and all my everyday life. But I think it was an important step for me and for my career. It was also a bit difficult as a result of lockdown."

There could even be major club awards to follow: his overhead-kick against Everton is the odds-on favourite to win our Goal of the Season prize, and many supporters feel he is among the leading contenders for the prestigious Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year title.

It’s clear that time is moving quickly for Garnacho, but our fleet-footed winger admits he remembers every little detail from the Youth Cup final.

“Two years have gone by, but when I watch the clips, I can remember it like it was yesterday,” he explains. “It was there at Old Trafford, where we play every weekend. It’s something I will never forget, it will always stick with me.”

Lifeblood: History
Alejandro Garnacho says

“The first time I played at Old Trafford I think there were around 5,000 people in the crowd. That wasn’t a huge amount but to me, it was just like the place was full!”

The transition from lockdown to 75,000 fans chanting his name on a weekly basis is remarkable, and yet our proud Academy graduate remains humble. He has worked hard to live his dream and knows he is only just getting started.

But every now and then, he does pinch himself.

“Well, it's incredible isn't it?” smiles Alejandro, while rewatching footage and reflecting on his journey. “I always used to go to the match. I loved watching football with my father so to hear an entire stadium singing your name at a club like Manchester United, it doesn't seem like it's real!

“A club like Manchester United, which is so rich in history, and for me one of the biggest ever and with all the fantastic players they've had over the years, it's a dream come true for me to play here.”

Lifeblood: History
Alejandro Garnacho says

“When I was a kid, I always used to go to the match, I loved watching football with my father. So to hear an entire stadium singing your name at a club like Manchester United, it doesn’t seem like it could really be happening!”


Lifeblood is a new story-driven documentary series utilising exclusive behind-the-scenes access to explore what drives the achievements and the philosophy of youth development at United.

Club media have followed players, parents and staff to explore the workings of one of the world’s most cherished sporting institutions. Interviews with current first-team graduates will also emphasise how the Academy’s core values mould successful people on and off the pitch.

Nick Cox, Director of Academy, said: “We know youth development plays a role in our club like at no other. The Academy and youth have supported Manchester United through our darkest moments and lifted us to our greatest heights, from Munich and 1968 to the Treble and much more.

“Hitting the 250th graduate landmark recently provided an opportunity to celebrate the great players and staff that have built a legacy, one nearly a century old, of developing homegrown players here. I’m excited that this documentary series will share an in-depth insight into our Academy, showing how the right environment is carefully created by a fantastic team of staff and by the amazing young people in our care."