FA Youth Cup 1992: Where are they now?
Today (15 May 2022) marks exactly 30 years since one of the great Manchester United youth sides won the FA Youth Cup, beating Crystal Palace 3-2 at Old Trafford to complete a 6-3 aggregate victory over the Eagles.
It was our first triumph in the competition since 1964 and will go down in history as one of the most cherished, with the majority of the side going on to play first-team football for the Reds.
Some members of the squad can even take their place in the pantheon of true United greats, with the 'Class of 92' known as one of the most productive age-groups ever.
Here, we run through every player who appeared across the two legs against Palace...
Unseen images from ‘92Gallery
We’ve been digging in the archives, 30 years on from our famous Youth Cup final win over Crystal Palace.
The Hitchin-born keeper was an ever-present in the 1991/92 competition, keeping clean sheets against Tranmere and Tottenham en route to the final. He signed a professional contract with United following our triumph and went on to make eight first-team appearances, prior to leaving in 1998. Pilkington spent much of his career with Mansfield and Notts County and he’s currently goalkeeping coach at Luton Town.
The defender played every minute as United won the Youth Cup for a seventh time. O’Kane, like many of his team-mates, made it into the senior side under Sir Alex Ferguson but his opportunities were limited by the emergence of fellow graduate Gary Neville. He signed for Everton in 1998 and closed out his league career with Bolton and Blackpool before retiring early through injury.
United’s left-back and a born Salfordian, Switzer was the only starter from across the second leg never to make a senior appearance for the club. He signed for Darlington in 1993 after being released and then spent six years with Hyde United in non-league football.
Centre-back Casper captained England at youth level and made his United debut in a League Cup tie against Port Vale in 1994. After spells on loan with Bournemouth, Swindon and Reading, he joined the Royals permanently in 1998 but sadly had to retire at the age of 24 due to injury. He then moved into coaching and is currently sporting director at Salford City.
Neville needs no introduction, although younger fans may be surprised to hear he was a centre-back in the 1992 team. He was the first member of the side to make his senior bow, against Torpedo Moscow in September 1992 and later usurped Paul Parker as United’s undisputed starting right-back. He retired in 2011 after 602 appearances and countless trophies, and is now a respected pundit, balancing his Sky Sports work with his ownership responsibilities at Salford.
Arguably the most famous of all of the ‘Class of ‘92’, Becks wore the no.6 shirt rather than the no.7 he sported for the majority of his illustrious Old Trafford career. A 1992 senior debutant, like team-mate and best friend Neville, Beckham launched himself into the spotlight during the 1995/96 season and was a standout player in the club’s legendary Treble success of 1999. He left for Real Madrid four years later and concluded his career at Paris Saint-Germain, following spells with LA Galaxy and AC Milan.
‘Butty’ was the hero of the final first leg, scoring twice at Selhurst Park to give United a huge advantage in the return tie. An all-action midfielder, he was also given a taste of the first team in 1992, although it would take him another couple of seasons to break into the midfield as a starter. Another stalwart of Sir Alex’s great sides of the 1990s and early 2000s, he starred at the 2002 World Cup for England before moving to Newcastle in 2004. Nicky returned to the club in 2012 and worked as reserve-team coach and head of first-team development, before leaving to seek new opportunities last year.
Access All Areas: FA Youth Cup final
Transport yourself pitchside and relive our glorious Youth Cup final win at Old Trafford…
Davies struck United’s second goal in the second leg and was also involved in the following season’s run to the final, alongside the likes of Neville, Butt and Beckham. The Cheshire-born midfielder went on to make 20 senior appearances, scoring against Galatasaray in the Champions League and he was also capped by Wales once. Simon later played for Luton, Macclesfield and Rochdale in the Football League and worked as a coach under Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht.
Scottish forward McKee headed home United’s third and final goal of the 3-2 win over Palace at Old Trafford and he was named the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year the following season. His one and only senior game came during the 1993/94 campaign but he was then sold to Kilmarnock. He spent the rest of his career in Scotland, retiring in 2001.
Familiar to a UK audience due to his work as a commentator and pundit for BT Sport, Savage started every game of the run, bar the second leg of the final, when Ryan Giggs returned to the side and he had to make do with a place on the bench. A combative central midfielder, Savage never played for United’s first team but later became a Premier League regular with Leicester City and Birmingham City. He also played 39 times for Wales and son Charlie is currently a member of our Under-23s side.
Ben netted our opener in the second leg and the tricky winger made his United breakthrough in 1994, although he suffered a significant setback after breaking his leg in a reserve match. That injury kept him out for a full season and, despite returning to the side and playing three times for England Under-21s, he eventually left United in 1998, later playing for Huddersfield, Blackpool and Aberdeen, among others. These days, you’ll often find him in our press box, as he’s MUTV’s regular co-commentator on first-team and Academy matches.
JOE ROBERTSRoberts contributed to wins over Tottenham and Palace off the bench and he was also involved in the following season’s campaign, as United went to the final again before losing to Leeds. He left United in 1994 and dropped out of football.
Taylor made one substitute appearance during the campaign, replacing Thornley at Selhurst Park. “Eric brought me on in the last few minutes and apologised for leaving it so late,” he told the Guardian. “I said: ‘Don’t worry.’ I’m not 100% sure if I even touched the ball – I probably did – but I was glad to be part of the team.” He left United soon after, moving into non-league football and has since worked in a metal coating factory and as a labourer.
Probably the star of the side, having made his professional debut the year before, PFA Young Player of the Year winner Giggsy netted four goals in the earlier rounds but missed the first leg, prior to pulling on the captain’s armband for the return match. It seems scarcely believable that he was still running down the wing and terrorising opposition defenders over two decades later and his club record of 963 appearances is surely one which will never be beaten.
Gillespie started the first three rounds, against Sunderland, Walsall and Manchester City, and was a substitute in the second leg of the final. After a handful of first-team appearances, he was included in the swap deal which brought Andy Cole to United from Newcastle and played his part in back-to-back second-placed Premier League finishes for the Magpies. A full Northern Ireland international, he later lifted the Worthington Cup with Blackburn Rovers.