Five small players who grew into Manchester United giants

With Manchester United linked with the impish Cengiz Under of Roma, we’ve decided to look at five players who succeeded at the club despite their stature….


Reports in the Italian press this week have linked Turkish international Cengiz Under with a possible summer move to Manchester United.

The 21-year-old has a turn of pace that would have made a young Ryan Giggs look like Geoff Capes and at five foot eight inches, Under often has trouble hurdling over the advertising hoardings at the Stadio Olimpico as he celebrates his latest goal with the Ultras on the Curva Sud.

Should the youngster arrive at Old Trafford in the summer, he would almost certainly be the smallest player in the current United squad (assuming Juan Mata departs at the end of the current campaign) but would he be the smallest player ever to wear the famous red and white shirt?

Here are five other former reds who were still buying child sized clothes well into their 30’s.

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Gordon Strachan (1984-89)

Golden Gordon left Aberdeen in 84 to join “Big” Ron Atkinson at the Theatre of Dreams, mainly to get away from Alex Ferguson.

Two years later and with United dangerously near the relegation zone, Atkinson vacated his parking space to be replaced by Gordon’s worst nightmare.

The pair stayed together for another three years despite an intense dislike of each other and the Scottish international went on to make over 160 appearances for the Red Devils, before heading over the Pennines to join Howard Wilkinson at Leeds United, where he won the leagueas captain in 1992.

Gerry Daly (1973-77)

One of Tommy Docherty’s first signings after he took over at Old Trafford, the impish Ireland midfielder became a Stretford End legend in his four seasons at the club.

“Five foot eight, not much weight, Gerry Daly’s f*****g great,” sang his disciples as Daly became the poster boy of Manchester United.

His off-field lifestyle helped elevate him to cult status too; often seen puffing on an Embassy Number One whilst gorging on fish & chips, the best description of Daly came from Mancunian journalist Richard Kurt, who described his skinny build and pallid demeanour as making him the “perfect front man for an Indie band.”

When the Doc got sacked for declaring his love for the United physio’s wife, he took Daly with him to Derby County, where he is best remembered for having to wait for the penalty-spot to be re-painted before scoring against Manchester City.

Lou Macari (1973-84)

Macari was another Docherty signing for United as the former Scotland boss decided to fill Old Trafford with as many of his brethren as the Edwards family would allow.

Described by his former captain Martin Buchan as, “The biggest piss-taker” at the club, it came as a surprise to everyone when Macari was discovered to be a clean living tee-totaller; something unheard of in British football in the 1970’s. Lou made over 300 appearances for United before heading to Swindon Town to begin a fairly successful career as a manager.

Macari is still held in high regard around Old Trafford where he can now be seen on the club’s TV channel working as a pundit. His chippy on Chester Road, a stone’s throw away from Old Trafford, is still serving customers after nearly 40 years.

Danny Wallace (1989-93)

It’s hard to imagine now but back in 1989, Alex Ferguson’s purchase of five foot four Southampton winger Danny Wallace, was predicted to be the catalyst that could lead the club to its first title since 1967.

After just a few months however, many United fans thought there had been a huge cock-up and that Fergie, who was struggling for allies at the time, had actually bought the wrong player and splashed out on Danny’s twin brother Rod.

One of Wallace’s first games was the 5-1 hammering by Manchester City at Maine Road and things went downhill from there. Despite the fact that the man from Greenwich helped United win the FA Cup that same season, the fans never took to Wallace just like they never really took to Ralph Milne or another pocket rocket, Terry Gibson.

Paul Scholes (1993-2013)

We’ve saved the best for last of course and the “Ginger Prince” will go down in history as one of United’s greatest ever players. Not bad for a guy that had no pace, couldn’t tackle and had the personality of a soggy newspaper.

What he did have however, was a superb footballing brain and you ask any European coach who was around in the mid-late 90’s who he thought was the greatest English player of his generation, they would all reply Paul Scholes.

Over 600 times he wore the famous red and white shirt and he scored some truly memorable goals for both club and country.

A Salford lad, Scholsey will always be United through and through and since he started working as a TV pundit, we’ve all seen a side to him that we never thought existed.

Away from the spotlight however, Scholes has always had a sense of humour, like when he was asked a few years ago who was the best player he’d ever seen, Scholes replied with a wry smile (Oldham Athletic striker) “Frankie Bunn.”

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