United and Wrexham: The key connections

Tuesday 28 March 2023 07:00

Manchester United’s friendly with Wrexham in San Diego as part of Tour 2023, may bring links to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood due to the Welsh side's owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, but these two clubs are no strangers to putting on a show.

The last time we took on Wrexham was in January 1995, when United eliminated Brian Flynn’s team from the FA Cup at Old Trafford. This was the fifth-ever competitive meeting between the clubs, with the previous clashes all being in cup competitions too.

Only 53 miles separates the two cities, but our past includes two European Cup-Winners' Cup meetings.

As we look ahead to the San Diego fixture on Tuesday 25 July, read about the links between United and Wrexham from years gone by…

United to play Wrexham AFC in San Diego


We can now confirm one of the teams Erik ten Hag's men will face on Tour 2023 this summer.


Notable players have turned out for both clubs in the past include Mickey Thomas, Ben Foster and Darren Ferguson, with all putting on United and Wrexham shirts at different points in their careers.

Our former striker Mark Hughes, known as ‘Sparky’ by both his peers and supporters, hails from the Welsh city and was an avid Wrexham fan in his childhood. He started his professional career at United, after being spotted playing for Wrexham schoolboys. Mark went on to make 462 appearances for our club across two stints, scoring 163 goals.

Like Hughes, Thomas is a proud Welshman, and he was taken on by Wrexham at the age of 15 after impressing for his school. Mickey signed for United in 1978, after helping the Dragons win the Third Division title, concluding a successful six years with his first club.

Thomas played for United from 1978 to 1981 before moving on to play for a host of other English clubs, and returned to Wrexham in 1991. He was the scorer of one of the most iconic goals ever seen at The Racecourse Ground – a sweetly-struck free-kick that levelled the scores against the reigning First Division champions Arsenal, which helped the Welsh side knock the Gunners out of the 1991/92 FA Cup.

Both Foster and Ferguson, also turned out for both clubs during their playing careers. Foster impressed Sir Alex Ferguson for the Dragons while on loan from Stoke City in 2005, ultimately sealing a move to Old Trafford. Remarkably, 18 years – and a retirement break – after his move to United, Foster is back at The Racecourse Ground, signing a short-term deal until the end of the season.


The most noteworthy matches between the sides were the three most recent, in 1990 (two legs) and 1995.

The 1995 meeting marked Phil Neville's senior debut, and the defender somehow managed to smack both posts with a shot, as the Reds went on to triumph 5-2 at Old Trafford and knock the lower division side out of the FA Cup, as we marched on to ultimately reach the final.

All The Goals: Mark Hughes Video

All The Goals: Mark Hughes

All The Goals | Mark Hughes scored 163 times across two spells at United - watch them all in order here...

In 1990, with United having not appeared in European competition for five years due to the restrictions imposed on English teams by UEFA following the Heysel Disaster, the Reds were cleared to compete in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

After overcoming Hungarian side Pecsi Munkas at the first hurdle, we were hopeful of securing an exotic trip to another European nation. An away clash in a different country was confirmed, but it was a short journey across to Wales rather than the sunny climes of Spain or France.

United won 3-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg, and followed that up with a 2-0 triumph in the away game, laying the foundations for Ferguson’s side to go on and lift the trophy that season, the second of his wildly successful tenure. Rather fittingly, it was with Wrexham-born Hughes who notched a match-winning brace in the final against his former club Barcelona.