Luke Chadwick: "I used to wear all my Manchester United stuff to school to let everyone know that I played for them!"

Former Burnley winger Luke Chadwick made his professional debut alongside Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Monday, 11th January 2021, 4:46 pm
Updated Monday, 11th January 2021, 4:50 pm
Luke Chadwick of Manchester United celebrates his goal against Leeds United during the FA Carling Premiership match at Elland Road in Leeds, England. The game ended 1-1.

Chadwick was 18 when handed his bow by Sir Alex Ferguson, lining up against Aston Villa in the League Cup in 1999.

It came just months after the Norwegian striker had made history when his last gasp winner in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich secured a famous treble for United.

"Ole was a fantastic human being, hard working and he always had time for you if you wanted a chat," said Chadwick, who has now launched the Football Fun Factory.

Arthur Gnohere of Burnley clashes with Luke Chadwick of Man Utd during the Burnley v Manchester United Worthington Cup, Fourth Round match at Turf Moor on December 3, 2002 in Burnley, England.

"He'd always look out for you, he was a really friendly guy and wanted to get the most out of himself every day.

"It's nice to see him now reaping the rewards after having a tough start at United. He's laying the foundations for what will hopefully be a really exciting future for him and the club."

Solskjaer didn't jump out as an obvious candidate to go into management during his playing days, according to Chadwick, but he feels the subtle shift in the role lends itself well to the Old Trafford boss' approach.

"The game has changed slightly over the past 20-odd years, it's about managing individuals and your relationships with those individuals," said Chadwick.

Luke Chadwick of United holds off John McGreal of Ipswich during the Barclaycard F.A. Premiership match between Ipswich Town v Manchester United at Portman Road, Ipswich.

"I think Ole is fantastic at that and he's the sort of person that can get the best out of people.

"Hopefully he can keep going and build a team that can mount a serious challenge for the next few seasons."

The former Molde and Cardiff City manager, who succeeded Jose Mourinho little over two years ago, has had a mixed reception throughout his tenure.

People's perceptions have been ever-changing due to inconsistencies in performances and results.

Luke Chadwick of Burnley running with the ball during the Nationwide League Division One match between Stoke City and Burnley on September 6, 2003 at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke, England. Burnley won the match 2-1.

But Chadwick, an ex-England Under 21 international, feels that he's starting to win the pessimists over after transforming United into genuine title contenders.

"It was always going to be a strange season and there were always going to be strange results throughout the season," he said.

"United got battered off Spurs and then hours later Liverpool were conceding seven against Aston Villa.

"If there was ever a time for United to win the title then this is the season to do it because their rivals are so inconsistent.

"They're right in the mix now without really playing their best football, which is always a good sign.

"If they win their game in hand against Burnley then they'll be top of the league so they have to be title contenders."

Chadwick was signed as a teenager having been spotted playing for the Cambridge schools team in the mid-90s.

He would attend Ousedale School in Newport Pagnell dressed from top to bottom in his Manchester United gear, such was his pride.

Chadwick went on to work with a collection of highly-esteemed coaches at The Cliff - including former Burnley midfielder Warren Joyce - before hitting the big time at the back end of the last Millennium.

"I signed for the club at 14 and moved up there at 16 and then managed to get a few games in the first team at 19/20," he said.

"I was playing for the Cambridge schools team, which was the real competitive football back when I was growing up, and I used to play for Arsenal's School of Excellence as well.

"I was scoring a lot of goals and a scout came to watch me play. I was invited for a trial and I was asked to sign off the back of that, which was obviously massive for a young lad living in a small village in the south of Cambridge.

"It was a great time and something that I'm humbled by to have been in that position.

"Warren Joyce was a manager when I first went up there as a schoolboy and I learned loads from him.

"I was lucky enough to work under Eric Harrison in his final season before stepping away from the role and then there was Neil Bailey and Dan Williams were my youth team coaches.

"I used to wear all my Manchester United stuff to school to let everyone know that I played for them."

After working his way through the ranks, Chadwick would clock up 39 appearances in the first team across the board and scored twice.

He netted his first goal for the club against Bradford City at Valley Parade almost 20 years ago to the day and put United 1-0 up against Leeds United at Elland Road later on in the season.

Chadwick, who made his Premier League debut in a 2-1 home win against Middlesbrough, said: "I had Jim Ryan and Tony Cotton in the reserves and then I obviously got to work with the great man himself, Sir Alex Ferguson, in the first team.

"We had coaches like Steve McClaren, Bryan Kidd, Carlos Queiroz, we were spoiled for choice.

"Everyone just wanted to impress Sir Alex every day because he was the leader of the organisation and he took an interest in everything that was being done at the club."

He added: "It was incredible. The environment was so intense, every day was a battle, you were pinching yourself because you were on the way to train with the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes.

"It was a surreal situation, but a steep learning curve. I'm hugely honoured to have been a part of that.

"It was amazing to have played for Manchester United. I don't think you appreciate it as much and understand how big a deal it is at the time.

"Looking back now, as an older man, knowing that you've played for that incredible football club is something I'm massively proud of. It's a huge achievement."

Chadwick's final game for United came at Turf Moor as the Red Devils ran out 2-0 winners in the League Cup in 2002.

Diego Forlan and Solskjaer were on the scoresheet for the visitors, beating Marlon Beresford in either half.

Chadwick returned nine months later, playing 40 times for the Clarets during a loan spell it what was Stan Ternent's final season in charge of the club.

He said: "I came back for pre-season training after being out on loan at Reading and I knew at that stage that my time with Manchester United was coming to an end.

"There wasn't much opportunity to get in the first team squad so it was a case of moving in a different direction.

"The manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] pulled me, he was great mates with Stan [Ternent] at the time, and told me that he wanted me to go to Burnley. It was a great opportunity to go and play - I'd really enjoyed my time at Reading where I'd been playing regularly for the first time in my career.

"We were living in Manchester at the time and a friend of mine, Lee Roche, signed at the same time so we traveled together every day."

He finished: "Stan Ternent was a wonderful man, Sam Ellis and Ronnie Jepson were fantastic people, old school, but it was enjoyable off the pitch. We struggled for a lot of the season on the pitch, but it was a season I'll never forget and one that I'll look back on really fondly.

"Stan took me under his wing, he was massive mates with Sir Alex, who always spoke so highly of him.

"He was a great character and when things were going right he was the best manager in the world to work under, but there were times when things weren't going too well and he'd tell you in no uncertain terms that it wasn't acceptable.

"He's a legend at the club, a legend in football, he was a great personality and it was a pleasure to have played under him. I would have liked to have done better for him in his last season at Burnley because being safe from relegation was the only real positive to take from it really."