Nick Cox: Everyone in our programme can achieve success

Thursday 25 January 2024 11:00

Last weekend saw the Manchester United Academy host our second annual Celebration Event.

2023 was a hugely successful year for the Academy with lots of on-pitch success for us to celebrate. However, this event was a bit different to the typical awards evening and was designed specifically to celebrate the young people in our programme and the personal growth that they have experienced in the last year.

I believe that true success for any young person in our programme is knowing that they did all they could to achieve their full potential. By this definition, everyone in our programme can achieve success; therefore, everyone has good reason to celebrate. Our young players need not be defined by first-team debuts and appearances alone.

The major focus of the event was off-pitch experiences, with awards given out for education achievement, charitable activity, contributions to the community and success in other sports.

Academy Weekly: Rooney attends Celebration Event


United's all-time leading goalscorer was a guest of honour at Old Trafford.

The 'Spirit of United' awards were presented to three young players who have shown resilience in dealing with difficult challenges throughout the year. The presentation of these awards came after a poignant tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton, who embodied better than anybody the spirit of United.

Frazier Campbell (Tony Whelan Award) and Eddie Johnson (Dave Bushell Award) received awards that recognise members of our alumni who have used their experiences at the Academy as a platform for success away from the club both on and off the field, demonstrating a commitment to life-long learning.

Of course we also recognised on-pitch successes as well. Nine graduates representing the first team in 2023, three new debutants, Marcus Rashford's goal in the Carabao Cup final, Scott McTominay captaining the team, 31 players achieving international call-ups at youth level and, of course... that goal from Alejandro Garnacho against Everton.
Our special guest, Wayne Rooney, shared some amazing words of wisdom through an insightful Q&A session. He talked to the boys about dealing with setbacks, developing resilience and the pride he took in playing for our club. He shared advice with parents about allowing the boys to play with enjoyment. Most notably he reflected on how Academy life had such a positive impact on his childhood.

The event was closed by friend of the club, Tony Walsh. He shared an inspiring recital of his poem 'Jimmy Murphy - Without Whom'.  A poignant reminder that we are all part of one of the most amazing stories ever told. 

It was an incredible event that reminded us all of the power of our sport and our club. Thank you to all the staff that worked so hard over many weeks to ensure the event was a success and in particular, the members of the working group: Ian Smithson, Andy Pilling, Marie Beckley, Wayne Cahill, Ryan Shorrock, Aidan Adamson, Imran Hamid and Andrew Laylor.

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