Martin Smith Column: Ravel Morrison should take this chance at Sheffield United and show the player he can be - he may not get many more
FA Youth Cup Final First Leg, May 17, 2011 - Sheffield United 2, Manchester United 2.
Bramall Lane was heaving, as much with football-lovers’ admiration for youthful talent as fervour and partisanship.
Three players stood out a mile - Harry Maguire, Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison.
Maguire became one of the cornerstones of England’s international revival and is now on the brink of a potential £80million transfer.
Pogba went on to win the World Cup with France, all legs, attitude and brilliance. Gloriously gangling, uniquely gifted, and as good as he is now.
Maguire was a giant. Totally unflappable and commanding with a touch like a surgeon.
He looked, as he does today, that he might get caught for pace. But he didn’t, and rarely does.
Another of the ‘what if’ generation of Sheffield United players from Jagielka to Calvert-Lewin who moved to greater things elsewhere leaving the Blades short of the quality they had nurtured at Shirecliffe.
But it was Morrison who shone brightest that night.
A boy who didn’t have to think about controlling a football, he was touch and gone, vision without looking, a kid who had the answers before opponents had thought of a question.
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The lives of Maguire, Pogba and Morrison have taken them down different paths since.
Two have carried on their trajectories to the top of the game, the third losing his way too many times for it to be anyone else’s fault but his own.
Now Morrison needs to express his Gazza-like ability to ghost past players and find the corner of the net - as he did twice in the second leg of that 2011 final as Manchester won 6-3 on aggregate.
After falling short of his awesome potential at Old Trafford, West ham, Lazio, Queens Park Rangers and Cardiff, now has to be Ravel Morrison’s time.
The off-field problems of his past have to stay in the past. At the age of 26 Morrison still has access to the huge talent that put him right at the top of youth football’s elite that night.
Alex Ferguson said he was the best young player he’d ever seen, and he’s seen a few.
Chris Wilder has put new trust in Morrison, his quality could make the difference for the Blades next season.
Ravel Morrison needs to take this chance to be the player he promised to be that night in 2011.
It might be his last.