Home » From idolising Cristiano Ronaldo to playing alongside him – Charlie McNeill’s path to the Manchester United first team

From idolising Cristiano Ronaldo to playing alongside him – Charlie McNeill’s path to the Manchester United first team

by Derick Kinoti

Charlie McNeill made his Manchester United senior debut on Thursday in the Europa League as the Red Devils fell to a 1-0 defeat against Real Sociedad.

According to Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst, McNeill’s debut was a dream come true for his family who have widely been described as ‘United mad’.

McNeill joined United from Manchester City for the second time in 2020 for a reported initial fee of £750,000 that could rise to £1.5million. He joined United’s rivals in 2014 from Carrington after they made his family an irrefutable offer to put his siblings in the prestigious St Bede’s College.

City tried unsuccessfully to tie the highly-rated youngster to a long-term contract at the Etihad.

“McNeill rejected the offer of a new contract at City, where he captained the Under-16s, and United coaches felt at the time the final fee would represent a “bargain”. They were right.”

Ever since the 19-year-old scored his first goal for the Red Devils against Everton’s youth team, he has been a star on the rise. He has since netted on numerous occasions and won the FA Youth Cup earlier this year.

His efforts culminated in his promotion to train with the first team and with his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Luckhurst reports, “The 19-year-old trained with the Under-21s last Monday and Tuesday before he was told he would be promoted to the first team’s session on Wednesday along with Tyler Fredricson and Kobbie Mainoo.”

“McNeill was only informed late on Wednesday evening he would be in the matchday squad against Sociedad.”

“McNeill grew up idolising the Portuguese [Ronaldo]. Well-placed sources at United say McNeill was one of the youngsters most excited to train alongside Ronaldo last season.”

As per Luckhurst, McNeill who is highly regarded as one of the stars of the future has also been working hard individually with respected academy coach Colin Little.

Little is credited with polishing Marcus Rashford’s game and helping to build the 24-year-old into the player he is today.

“His [McNeill] development in the last six months has struck coaches. McNeill is regarded as one of the standout leaders in the academy.”

It is clear that under Ten Hag the youth have a clear pathway into the first team setup. One cannot help but feel that it is only a matter of when and not if for a player of McNeill’s potential.

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