It’s 30 years ago this week since Manchester United’s fabled Class of ’92 lifted the FA Youth Cup, a competition deeply engrained in the history of the club.
On Wednesday at a packed Old Trafford, United’s latest batch of young stars will try to emulate the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt by winning it for a record 11th time against first-time finalists Nottingham Forest.
Around 65,000 tickets have been sold for the game so far, meaning the previous highest attendance of 38,137 for United’s semi-final at Arsenal in 2007 will be smashed out of sight.
Manchester United’s latest crop of academy stars are aiming to emulate the club’s fabled Class of ’92 in Wednesday night’s FA Youth Cup final at Old Trafford against Nottingham Forest
United’s Class of ’92, featuring Ryan Giggs (front row, third from right), David Beckham (front row, second from right) and Gary Neville (back row, third from left), won it 30 years ago
FA YOUTH CUP FINAL
Man United vs Nottingham Forest
Wednesday May 11; Kick-off 7.30pm
Live on The FA Player and MUTV
‘A normal crowd would be my mum and my sister!’ smiles captain Rhys Bennett.
‘Because of Covid, one or two per player so about 20 or 30 odd.’
Eleven years have passed since Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard helped United last win this trophy in 2011, and that particular chapter will close when both players leave Old Trafford this summer.
But United’s commitment to youth is beyond question.
The number of consecutive games with an academy product in the first-team squad now runs to 4,146 with Alejandro Garnacho the latest and 243rd graduate to break through.
‘Seeing someone like Alejandro do it shows us we can do it as well,’ says winger Sam Mather.
Beckham and Co stand out because they went on to enjoy so much success as a group at senior level, but could that ever be repeated?
‘I definitely believe it’s possible,’ says full-back Sam Murray. ‘The way they bring us up is unique.
Paul Pogba (second right) and Jesse Lingard (second left) played for Manchester United the last time they appeared in the FA Youth Cup final, back in 2011
Now a new generation of Old Trafford talent, including Alejandro Garnacho (middle) will hope to impress in front of a record crowd of around 65,000 on Wednesday night
‘We’ve had coaching with some of the Class of ’92. We know they’re a close group and that is similar to us.’
Forest coach Warren Joyce was working in United’s academy when they beat a Sheffield United side featuring Harry Maguire in the 2011 final.
Current United Under 18s boss Travis Binnion was on the opposition bench then, but he knows what this occasion means for the club and potentially the players as well.
‘The hairs on the back of my neck stand up thinking about the Busby Babes, the Class of ’92 and 2011,’ says Binnion.
‘The lads can see what sort of careers they’ve had and the household names they’ve become.
‘We want to win the Youth Cup but if six or seven of these boys go on and play in the Premier League, that is a far greater achievement.’
Charlie McNeil, a prolific goalscorer in the youth ranks, pictured celebrating in the semi-final
YOUTH CUP FACTS AND STATS
Jonny Brick has written a book chronicling the history of the FA Youth Cup complete with player recollections about the competition from the past 70 years.
From Kids to Champions, by Pitch Publishing, is released on May 16 and you can order it here. Jonny has provided Sportsmail with some facts and stats about Wednesday’s final: