Nick Cox: 249 debuts and counting

Thursday 11 January 2024 09:42

On Monday evening, everyone at Manchester United was proud to see Omari Forson making his senior debut as a substitute in the Emirates FA Cup win over Wigan Athletic.

Only two weeks ago, we celebrated the first-team debut of Willy Kambwala and he has gone on to appear twice more since then, making this a significant period for our Academy system. 
Significantly, Omari is the 249th graduate of our youth programme to make his debut since Tom Manly became the first in December 1931.

That figure of 249 debutants represents roughly half of the players who have ever played for our great club and it’s an incredible statistic.

Academy Weekly: Closing in on a historic landmark


Omari Forson edged our Academy closer to an important milestone, as our youngsters return to action on Friday.

As always, it is useful to reflect on Omari’s journey so far and take some time to recognise all of the staff that have played an important role in his development. It is also important to recognise how each of our players’ journeys are unique and often not linear; a principle of which our Academy programme is designed.
Omari joined our Under-15 age group from Tottenham Hotspur. Relocating from London to Manchester at a young age isn’t easy and a great deal of support was required to ensure that he had the appropriate programme in place; induction to the club, accommodation, transport, family support and more.

Omari attended Ashton on Mersey School as part of the Manchester United Schoolboy Scholarship programme. A full-time training and education model for players of secondary school age. Ashton on Mersey School have been our partners for over 20 years, and Omari achieved an outstanding set of GCSE grades.

On the pitch he was part of our successful FA Youth Cup-winning squad in 2022. Interestingly, Omari didn’t feature heavily in the cup run but showed exceptional resilience, and that’s a reminder that the journey isn’t always smooth and straightforward.

Forson: It is an honour Video

Forson: It is an honour

Omari Forson reacts after becoming United's 249th Academy graduate...

Omari featured heavily in last season’s Under-21 programme and his development accelerated significantly. Since travelling to the USA with our first team for Tour 2023,Omari has trained regularly with the senior squad, returning to play in U21, UEFA Youth League and EFL Trophy fixtures.
I would like to say well done to all of the staff who have played an important role in supporting Omari to this point. You each know who you are.

But most of all congratulations to Omari. Ultimately, while the Academy offers expertise and support, it is down to the player to take ownership of their own development, often with great support from important individuals outside of the club such as parents, family and friends.
Omari now has work to do to fight for his first competitive start. Meanwhile, we have work to do as staff, in preparing the players to facilitate debut number 250 and beyond.
What a great way to start the year and congratulations again, Omari. 

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