United Briefing: ‘That will always be my career highlight’

For those few who are fortunate enough to experience it, making your senior Manchester United debut is a moment that every Red remembers with precise detail.

But for Daniel James, his first outing for United was a particularly special occasion. The Welsh international explains exactly why that’s the case when speaking on the upcoming episode of UTD Podcast, which is available today (Monday) from your usual podcast provider at 17:00 BST.

Dan made an instant impact against Chelsea on his Reds debut in August 2019, and reveals in his chat with co-hosts Sam Homewood, Helen Evans and David May that he actually grew up supporting the opposition side.

“When I signed for United, I can’t remember who it was, one of the Sky Sports [pundits] said: ‘he supports Liverpool’. I was thinking I don’t support Liverpool, but I never wanted to come out and say I supported Chelsea as a youngster,”
the winger reflects.

UTD Podcast: The story of Dan's surreal debutVideo

“When I started playing for Swansea it [Chelsea] was the team I followed, but you don’t end up supporting them really. I used to look at their players when I was younger - [Eden] Hazard, [Juan] Mata and [Didier] Drogba - and they were players that I loved. You kind of grow out of that.

“It was quite strange playing them in the first game of the season and before the game I never thought I would come on. It’s a big game, I thought it would be a close encounter but we were actually 3-0 up. 

“Then I thought I could get my opportunity here. It was goosebumps when the gaffer [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer] called my name. I think I got 15 minutes which was great. It was surreal and the fans, when I made my debut, it was just great them clapping when you come on and them really cheering you on. That set me alight really.”

James may have only got 15 minutes against the Blues, but that was all he needed on that glorious summer’s afternoon, to open his goalscoring account for United.

“I think I made a couple of runs before that and maybe didn’t get the ball and I just made one more run,” he says. “Paul [Pogba], I didn’t think he’d seen me at the time he played me the ball and I took a touch and I thought this is going to get away from me and I struck it and thankfully it took a nice deflection and went into the back of the net.

“Then it was just pure emotion, goosebumps and I didn’t know what to do with myself really. At the Stretford End as well and you could see how happy the fans were, not just for the scoreline but for me scoring on my debut. 

“When I look back it at now, the whole team came over, even Harry [Maguire] after a long game. It was very emotional and my family were up at the top of the Stretford End and I think my mum was crying as well. 

“It was a brilliant moment and that will always be the number one highlight of my career, even if I go on to do great things I think that will always stick out because It was my debut and it was just unbelievable.”

WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY?

Firstly, there are no international games involving United players, the one day without a matches between last Wednesday and this Wednesday.

United’s March 2021 Player of the Month is set to be announced with Dean Henderson, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw in the running.

We’re also celebrating a few of our greatest-ever defenders with some not-to-be-missed content across our website and and Official App.

 

WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?

There were a host of international matches, involving Reds from several European countries.

Anthony Martial had a first half to remember as France beat Kazakhstan 2-0, with the United man registering a sublime assist for Ousmane Dembele’s opener. However, Martial was then forced off in the second period with what appeared to be a knee injury.

Luke Shaw also provided an assist as England registered a 2-0 victory over Albania. It was his first start on the international stage for some two and half years and he put in a disciplined performance at the back, alongside Harry Maguire.

Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay and Diogo Dalot were involved in international action as well on Sunday. Check out our International Blog to see a full breakdown of how they fared.

We also released the second part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Q&A, in which he revealed whether he had any regrets from his time in the Old Trafford post, while on ManUtd.com and the Official App, we relived Solskjaer’s 10 greatest goals as a Red - we recommend you do to.

Catch up on Sunday's essentials: