John O'Shea playing in the Youth Cup in 1998

O'Shea on the importance of the FA Youth Cup

Wednesday 04 May 2022 14:00

Former Manchester United defender and Academy product John O’Shea says next Wednesday’s FA Youth Cup final against Nottingham Forest will be a brilliant occasion for the club’s current crop of young talent.

O’Shea made 393 appearances for United’s first team but his first experiences of competitive football in Manchester came in the tournament the Reds have won more than anyone else since it was launched in 1952.

Unfortunately, John’s experience of the Youth Cup was brief, as the side he played in fell to a 4-0 third-round replay defeat to Everton in January 1999.

The former Ireland international is aware of the importance of the competition to United though, and how it has been the launch pad for dozens of Reds careers, from Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards in the 1950s, through George Best, Norman Whiteside, Mark Hughes and the Class of ’92 to current first-teamers Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.

Record crowd expected for Youth Cup final


The club has already outsold the competition record of 38,137 ahead of our game with Nottingham Forest.

“It’s huge. I remember when we played our game in it against Everton,” O’Shea told club media.

“The game didn’t go too well for us in the replay, when we lost against them.

“The whole atmosphere around the club and how the club built it up so much was brilliant and it brought that whole kind of… you felt the intensity and how important it was to do well in the competition, but also the pathway of other players that have done well from it.”

O’Shea attended March’s semi-final, when our Under-18s beat Wolves 3-0 at the Theatre of Dreams and he’s looking forward to another great Old Trafford night, as the Youth Cup attendance record of 38,137 is expected to be shattered next week.

Of course, football at this age is all about learning and building towards a career in the game, but John would love to see the potential United players of tomorrow lift the trophy for a record-extending 11th time, under lead coach Travis Binnion.

“I was at the game against Wolves and the youth team put in an amazing performance and it was quite comfortable, but they’ll be up for it against a tough Nottingham Forest team that had a great result against Chelsea,” he added.

FA Youth Cup: United 3 Wolves 0 Video

FA Youth Cup: United 3 Wolves 0

It was a night to remember at Old Trafford in the FA Youth Cup semi-final...

“It’ll be one to look forward to but it’s a great one for the younger kids because they see the atmosphere at Old Trafford, the occasion and also they’re showing some amazing ability too and I’m sure there’s lots of talented players there looking to get into the first team as soon as they can.

“It’s a classic one of enjoy the occasion, but the best way to enjoy it is to win the game. So whatever way you can, win the game.”

O'Shea will be in action at Old Trafford this month too, as he plays for United in the Legends of the North game. Get your tickets here.