The key factor behind Levitt's Roman adventure
Dylan Levitt's loan at Istra in Croatia certainly reaped dividends for the young Manchester United midfielder as he made his major international tournament bow in Wales' 1-0 defeat to Italy at Euro 2020.
The 20-year-old was introduced in the 86th minute as 10-man Wales secured a scoreline that ensured they progress in second place in Group A, and on to Amsterdam for a round-of-16 fixture on Saturday.
It was a memorable moment for somebody who has risen through the ranks at United but the organisation and innovation involved in sealing a spell in senior football earlier this year, with the bold overseas move, was vital to it being able to happen.
United's Academy Player performance manager Les Parry told us: "We were unable to find him a suitable club in England and, after the transfer window closed, we knew if he was just playing Under-23s football, he wouldn’t get in the Euros squad.
“So we scoured Europe for windows that were still open going into February and Croatia was one of them. I already knew the owners at Istra, so I contacted them and they were willing to take him. He had some great experiences out there, lived in a holiday resort so it can’t be bad!
“He ended up in the Wales squad and that was the main aim for us; to get him in the squad. That’s worked so it was a fantastic move for him.”
Parry is still hoping Levitt may get some more involvement with Rob Page's side now through to the knock-out stages.
Ahead of the finals, he said: “It would be fantastic if he did get some minutes on the pitch and I think he’s got good chances. He played a full 90 minutes against France [in a warm-up friendly] so the manager must rate him. So, hopefully, you never know but he might even get a start.”
Nick Cox, Manchester United's Head of Academy, said:
“Everyone at the Academy is really proud of each of our graduates playing in the European Championship. To play for your country at a major tournament is an amazing achievement.
“Dylan showed great character in pursuing his loan abroad and had a range of excellent experiences in Croatia. Having been with the Academy since the age of eight it would have been easy to return in January and play a key part for our Under-23s side, however he was determined to play first-team football. That drive is fantastic to see in a young player and he is clearly reaping the rewards for that this summer.”
HOMEGROWN UNITED PLAYERS AT THE EUROS
1968: Bobby Charlton (England), Nobby Stiles (England).
1992: David Platt (England).
1996: Gary Neville (England), David Platt (England), Phil Neville (England).
2000: Gary Neville (England), Phil Neville (England), David Beckham (England), Paul Scholes (England).
2004: Gary Neville (England), Phil Neville (England), David Beckham (England), Paul Scholes (England), Nicky Butt (England).
2012: Danny Welbeck (England), John O'Shea (Rep of Ireland), Paul McShane (Rep of Ireland), Darron Gibson (Rep of Ireland), Gerard Pique (Spain), Ron-Robert Zieler (Germany).
2016: Marcus Rashford (England), Tom Heaton (England), James Chester (Wales), Jonny Evans (Northern Ireland), Corry Evans (Northern Ireland), Luke McCullough (Northern Ireland), Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland), Paddy McNair (Northern Ireland), Craig Cathcart (Northern Ireland), John O'Shea (Rep of Ireland), Robbie Brady (Rep of Ireland), Gerard Pique (Spain), Paul Pogba (France).
2020 (played in 2021): Marcus Rashford (England), Sam Johnstone (England), Dean Henderson (England), Dylan Levitt (Wales), Scott McTominay (Scotland), Paul Pogba (France).