The stats behind our 250 Academy graduates

Wednesday 24 April 2024 22:03

Following Ethan Wheatley becoming our 250th Academy graduate to represent the first team, we’re celebrating some of the stats and numbers behind the proud achievement for everyone involved at Manchester United.

In appearing off the bench in Wednesday’s Premier League clash against Sheffield United, Wheatley took the distinct honour of becoming our landmark Academy alumnus, doing so with seven fellow graduates of the club’s youth system in the matchday squad.

An astonishing 101 of our 250 graduates have hailed from the Greater Manchester county, with Wheatley born in Stockport. Of course, there is also a diversity among our alumni, too, with our graduates hailing from both across the country and, indeed, around the world, while all having differing stories to share in how they came to the point of making their debut.

Ethan Wheatley replaces Rasmus Hojlund.


While every debut is different, and each one unique to the individual making the prestigious honour of representing Manchester United for the first time, it’s interesting to look back and assess how our Academy graduates’ debuts have typically panned out.

Wheatley became the 103rd of our 250 Academy debutants to have made their first Reds appearance as a substitute, and it’s the 138th win that the Reds have taken from those 250 debuts. The mean age of an Academy graduate making their Reds debut is under 19, and the data reveals that each graduate makes, on average, 78 appearances for the club.

Some 117 debuts have come at Old Trafford, with Wheatley's maiden outing for the Reds the 35th out of the 250 to have been made in Premier League competition – a further 105 came in the old Division One.

Sir Bobby Charlton is the highest-scoring graduate, with 249 goals, and was for several years the record appearance maker with 758, until being overtaken by Ryan Giggs, incredibly, with his appearance in the 2008 Champions League final the game to see him leapfrog the fellow European Cup winner. Giggs’s record stands at 963 appearances, and he also holds the honour of most trophies won by an Academy graduate, with 35.


United’s Academy graduates have hailed from 20 countries from around the world.

Tom Manley, from England, was our very first graduate in December 1931, while maiden debuts from the fellow home nations followed for the Republic of Ireland’s Jonny Carey in September 1937, Northern Ireland’s Jackie Blanchflower in November 1951, Scotland’s Alex Dawson in April 1957, and Wales’ Kenny Morgans in December 1957.

The latest Red to have become the first Academy graduate from their country of origin was Anthony Elanga, becoming the first Swede to emerge from the club’s youth system when he made his debut against Leicester City at Old Trafford, at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

We’ve also seen the likes of France-born Hannibal and Belgium-born Andreas Pereira go on to play international football – for Tunisia and Brazil, respectively – for nations outside their country of origin.

Our road to 250 Academy graduates Video

Our road to 250 Academy graduates

Ethan Wheatley becomes the 250th Academy graduate to represent United at senior level - it's been a proud journey...


United are famously known for their policy of placing faith in young players, with Wheatley the latest teenager to make his bow.

The striker, who scored two goals against Manchester City to help the Reds win the Under-18 Premier League Cup on Tuesday, has had an unforgettable couple of days at his boyhood club.

We have seen six Academy graduates make their Reds bow aged just 16: Jeff Whitefoot, Duncan Edwards, David Gaskell, Willie Anderson, Norman Whiteside and, most recently in 2017,  Angel Gomes.

United 4 Sheffield United 2


Bruno Fernandes scores two as the Reds twice come from behind to beat the Blades.


United hold a long and extremely proud record of at least one Academy graduate being in every matchday squad for well over 80 years, and judging by the number of players to have progressed to making a first-team debut in recent decades, it looks as though that honour could be set to continue for many years to come.

Wheatley's appearance means we have already seen 17 debuts this decade, while the 2010s was the most successful our Academy has ever seen for a number of debuts, with 42, edging out the previous best of the Busby Babes era in the 1950s. The 2000s was a close third with 38 debutants during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final full decade at the club.

And with Wheatley following Kobbie Mainoo and Willy Kambwala in making their Reds bow this term, we can be confident that our Academy is in an excellent position to continue producing first-team talent for generations to come.

All statistical research and data included in this article is courtesy of club reporter Harry Robinson.