Home » Charlie Scott opens up on the struggles of being released from Manchester United

Charlie Scott opens up on the struggles of being released from Manchester United

by Colm Murphy

Former Manchester United academy product Charlie Scott has revealed he has finally found himself again after falling into depression following his release from Manchester United in 2018.

Having been at the club from six years old up to his release at twenty, life beyond United was an unknown for the young man.

After bouncing around a number of non-league clubs, Scott jumped at the opportunity to move to Hong Kong where he has become a star player, winning the Hong Kong Premier League’s player of the year and featuring in the team of the year.

It is a path Scott has told the Manchester Evening News he would recommend to everyone though saying “I never heard of anyone, especially at my age, going from the academy, falling out of the game, then going straight to Asia. If there is anyone out there who has the chance for a scholarship, part-time work, or a job, I’d definitely advise them to take it, not just for the football side but for the actual way of living, the experience, and the memories you’ll make.”

The journey there though has been wrought with uncertainty and ups and downs.

Speaking about his time in the academy, Scott said “I realised at about 15 or 16 you’re fighting for full-time football. When you leave school fighting for a scholarship, a professional contract. I was always the last person in my age group to find out if I’m being released or if they offer me a deal.

“When I was about 16, they offered me a two-year scholarship contract. I was obviously over the moon with that. But it is worrying at that time because you don’t know what you’re going to do after it.

“You don’t realise what’s the next step, not even just football, in life. Do I need to go to college? Do I need to go to study? I never thought too much of it, but looking back now it is dangerous, you need a backup plan. You need something in line as the next step so that if something doesn’t go your way, which happens a lot, not even in football just in life.”

After an unsuccessful loan spell at Scottish Premiership side Hamilton Academical, Scott was released from United without an idea of where to go next.

“I think without my parents, I definitely wouldn’t be here today, as cliché as it sounds. I fell out of love with the game for about two years and was in a dark place. I didn’t know where I wanted to be, or if I wanted to play football again. Didn’t know what I wanted to do in life.”

“I felt like there was no one I could turn to. I think now it is different. I feel like there have been changes made by the PFA which is good. It is quite easy to fall into a dark place. I was at United for 14 years, that’s like three quarters of my life: the same routine over and over again every year. I didn’t know anything else.

“I’d love to have had more support, but I don’t blame anyone. It’s difficult because you get released at 20. You don’t know what to do and you don’t know where to go. You don’t know what the next step in life is for you. It’s not just happened with me. I think it’s happened with many, many young players.”

With the heartbreak of his time at United ending, Scott began to actively avoid football and joined his father working in construction.

During this time he hit his biggest lows, turning to drinking and gambling which led to debts that forced his parents to sell their car to support him.

Thankfully for Scott, he was able to pull himself out of the spiralling addiction that most cannot and further sought “professional counselling to try and overcome the sense of rejection that was affecting every aspect of his life.”

After not touching a football for nearly six months, Scott joined local side Newcastle Town in Staffordshire.

“I was like… ‘okay.’ I had some mates from school there. So I thought, ‘why not?’ I’ll just go give it a go. The main step was just to find that love again, just to just appreciate playing football and find that enjoyment of playing with your mates, laughing and joking.”

“I ended up playing there for about six months. I felt happy. They gave me the opportunity to fall back in love with the game. The next step was realising I just didn’t want to play at that level. I wanted to go again, go as far as I can possibly could.”

“Then the lifeline came over from Hong Kong. When I had the phone call from my agent, I didn’t think it was true.”

The offer enticed Scott not just footballing wise but also with the opportunity to start fresh in life and experience something new.

“I thought it might be a good opportunity, not just for football, but to start a new life, make good memories, and experience new cultures in new environments. I was looking at the football side, obviously, but then at the same time, the life experience as well.”

“Before I left United, I went on trial at so many clubs. I went to 15 clubs and they all said no. I think that’s when I fell into the dark side, I just fell out of love with the game. I think that’s probably because I thought I’d been at Man United. I’m just going to walk into any team now.”

“When Hong Kong came, I thought, ‘I’m going to go for it, no questions asked. I’m going to move to the other side of the world alone and just get my head down and try and find my feet again.”

It wasn’t any easy move though as Scott opened up “the first few months I hated it, I wanted to come back to England. I didn’t like the food, so I wasn’t eating. I didn’t like the weather, it was too hot, too humid. I felt like I was dying on the football pitch. There there was also the pressure of coming to Hong Kong as a former Manchester United player.”

But Scott stuck at it in a desire not to let down his parents and began learning Cantonese, growing to love the lifestyle and meeting his fiancé.

Initially starting at one of the smaller clubs in Happy Valley, Scott knew from the start that he wanted to aim high and eventually join Hong Kong’s biggest club, Kitchee.

After a troubling season off the pitch with Happy Valley where they could not afford to pay Scott a salary, the midfielder kept his sights on the pitch being awarded league’s player of the year and subsequently earning himself a two year contract with Kitchee.

After spiralling out after life with United, Scott has turned his life around and found happiness as he concludes “coming to Asia, I feel like I’ve found myself again. I’m just enjoying life out here. I’ve grown to like it. I’ve started to learn the language and the culture, adapt to the weather environment. I feel like now is the perfect time for me.”

Describing modern football’s progression from academy up as “cutthroat”, Scott is a rare an inspiring example of resilience.

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