Febian Brandy UTD Unscripted A version of a dream


When you see him coming your way, you think:

Oh. My. Gosh.

What have I done wrong? Have I done badly in school? What is it?

Everything is flickering through your head. 

If you’ve done something, he’s going to come down on you like a tonne of bricks. 

He gets to me.

“Brandy, you alright?”

“Alright boss.”

“Have you heard?”

I kind of knew what he was getting at.

“What do you mean?”

“Barcelona have enquired about you. What do you think?”

This is a test.

I could feel my heart pounding.

All I could think was: don’t say anything stupid here. If I’d started going: “Well, it’s a good opportunity…” I daren’t think what would have happened. Instead, I just told the truth.

“I’ve just let it go over my head, boss. I’m a Manchester lad, I see my career here.”

He tapped me on the head, said: “Good lad,” and walked off. Phew!

So I carried on my education at United, and there were examples everywhere to learn from. I’d look at Ole and Andy Cole when I was growing up, but Ruud van Nistelrooy was the one my group learned from the most. We had our skills coach, Rene Meulensteen, who used to come over to the youth players and he’d tell us to look at Ruud. Rene started teaching us about how Ruud used to finish. He would put on these sessions just for the strikers and sometimes Ruud would come over and talk to us. It wasn’t just a token thing, either; it was detailed. Really detailed strike sessions. He’d put cones out to mark zones in the penalty area, and he’d say: “You’re welcome to shoot from zone three, but it’s scientifically proven that if you do, you’re reducing your chance to score by 70 percent.” It actually made sense because when you try to score from those angles, you’re scoring maybe two or three goals from 30 shots. Then we’d move three yards to a different zone and suddenly we’re scoring 15 or 20 goals. Little things that separated United from the rest.

I just kept on picking up all this information, and by the time I reached the Under-18s, I was part of a really decent team under Paul McGuinness. We reached the FA Youth Cup final in 2007 and, while we lost to Liverpool on penalties in the final, we had an epic semi-final against Arsenal. We lost the first leg 1-0 at their place, then won 4-2 at Old Trafford in the last minute of extra-time. I was fortunate enough to score that night, along with Chris Fagan, Anton Ryan and Danny Welbeck.

Welbz was the one everyone spoke about in our youth team. You could always see he was talented, even as a kid. He had that Kanu swag to him, that Berbatov swag, that technique that was somehow slow but good, even though he was so quick. He was always going to be big too – his brothers were big, so he was always going that way. I went to the same school as Welbz and his brothers, so I could always see that he was going to be some player. He’s down to earth, regardless of all the success he’s had since. Winning the league with United, scoring in Madrid against Real, winning so many England caps… but he’s always gonna be Welbz. Grounded. He’s highly respected in the game even today. 

He was one of my closest mates at United, but I liked loads of the lads I played with. Sam Hewson, James Chester, Richard Eckersley, Tom Cleverley, Danny Drinkwater, Fraizer Campbell, Aaron Burns, Lee Crockett, Ben Amos… when you look back, it goes to show how hard it is to judge where people are gonna be at. I know some people thought I would be a regular in the Premier League because of the buzz I’d had around me, but my path took a different turn. Players who didn’t really have the buzz around them went on to play Premier League, internationals and so on.


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