Former Manchester United talent Michael Clegg came so close to establishing himself as a top Red Devils star.
He broke through under Sir Alex Ferguson and played a part in the club’s Premier League success and European adventures.
In the first of a three part interview, Clegg takes a trip down memory lane with United In Focus to explain in his own words, his five most memorable moments as a Manchester United player.
Getting a break with United’s under-16s
“When I first got the opportunity to have my debut for the under-16s, that was a massive moment.
“A scout called Brian Poole came to watch me play for Droylsden. I was playing centre-midfield at the time, I was captain.
“I’d just applied for college. the team I was in was a really good team, lads at Blackburn and City, but it hadn’t happened for me.
“He said ‘you have got something different, you are tenacious, aggressive. Play centre half, I want to see how you do and I’ll give you an opportunity.’
“When I put the United shirt on, it was like putting Superman’s cape on. It gave me energy.
“It was incredible. I was taking free kicks, throw ins, I scored a goal, and we beat Blackpool.
“I played another six games for the under-16s and got offered a two year scholarship.”
Winning the 1995 FA Youth Cup
“We were two years younger than the Beckham squad, the class of 92.
“After games against Wrexham, Charlton, Wimbledon and Arsenal we played Tottenham in the final. To win that was amazing.
“We had a great team ethic. For a lot of lads, not many of us went on to make it or did very well.
“Phil Neville was in team, he was on who did. We weren’t very good so we actually did really well. It was credit to ourselves and the coaches.”
Making my debut for the first team
“I was flying in reserves, but had never travelled with first team.
“On the Thursday one of players, might have been Scholesy, said I might be travelling with first team, and might be playing. I said ‘no chance’.
“I got fitted for a suit. When I walked into the dressing room I saw the names, Schmeichel, Clegg, Pallister, Cantona, Keane.
“The penny dropped I’m playing, the moment of realisation. Then somebody put his hand on shoulder. It was Bobby Charlton.
“He said ‘Congrats Mike, you are about to go and play for the biggest team in the world, go and enjoy it’.
“It was against a tough Middlesbrough team, with Juninho and Ravanelli. We drew 2-2.
“The lads said afterwards ‘are you going to hit the town and celebrate?’ I just went to meet mates in Ashton, chill out and play snooker, not go crazy.
“I never got too involved in the socialising, it grounded me.”
Champions League debut
“It wasn’t a great day for team. It was the Champions League quarter-final. I came on at half-time against Monaco. We drew 1-1.
“I felt inspired, and got stuck in. I had the eye of the tiger.
“I stepped in, this was a massive opportunity, I played against Trezeguet, and Henry came on.
“I said to myself this could be a life changer. It almost was. It was a sliding doors moment, if that shot had gone in which Barthez tipped over.
“It was then that I needed a run of games, but with Johnsen, Stam, Nevilles etc it was always going to be difficult if they were fit.”
Scoring at Old Trafford
“I scored a really nice goal against Inter Milan at Old Trafford.
“It was a good goal, in front of a packed house.
“Even though it was pre-season and wasn’t ‘competitive’, it was for me.
“When you got given a chance, you had to be ready to give everything.
“I’ve got an unbelievable picture of Ole, Becks and Brian McClair celebrating with me at that moment.”
What is Michael up to now?
Michael is the founder and online training coach for Seed of Speed, a specialist programme designed to help and train elite athletes around the world.
He is also is an accredited coach at the Elite Performance Institute where he will be running a series of seminars from April.
Michael is also launching his own YouTube channel which you can subscribe to here.