WHEN Shaun Murphy left United to see out his career in his native Australia, Harry Maguire was still at school.
Time has flown by since then. Murphy’s eldest boy, at 12, is two years older than what Maguire was when Murphy departed for Perth Glory in 2003.
Still keeping an eye on the Blades, the former player of the season likes what he sees in the homegrown youngster who has established himself in his old position.
“United’s academy has an excellent track record of producing good youngsters,” he said. “It’s some time ago now but I remember the likes of Phil Jagielka, Michael Tonge and Nick Montgomery joining in with the first team in training and they had a confidence and ability that spoke volumes for the academy.
“It would appear that Harry Maguire and Matthew Lowton are also progressing nicely and I’ve noted that Harry has been an almost ever present this season at centre-back, which in my opinion is the most important position on the park and to do that at the age of 19 is really impressive.”
Murphy, who scored in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, lives in Perth now and coaches both local club Whitfords FC’s Under 12 side, where his son plays, and an Under-17 side at his former college.
The game has changed financially since he left England too and he believes that United’s prosperous academy will help them punch above their weight, despite the heartbreak of their play-off final defeat.
“I would think the future of clubs like Sheffield United, who don’t have limitless funds, lies in the success of their academy,” he said.
Murphy, a fans favourite in his time at Bramall Lane, earned all of his 18 Australia caps whilst at United.
“My time at the Blades was very enjoyable and coincided with the best form of my career and I have the club to thank for that,” he said.
“I was fortunate enough to get selected to represent my country, stay injury free and be part of a successful side. To be acknowledged by the fans as Player of the Year was a memorable honour.
“There’s plenty of talent in Australia for English clubs to look at but I prefer working at the grassroots level.”