Football fans around the globe woke to the news that Inter Milan are in advanced talks to sign Manchester United captain Ashley Young, with the collective sound of people choking on their cornflakes echoing around the planet five times.
The 34-year-old utility player is yet to be offered an extension to his United deal which expires in the summer and the Nerazzurri have swooped to sign the former Aston Villa star. Young would be the fifth United star to move to Serie A this year, following in the footsteps of teammates Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku.
And so, like a Z-list celebrity just evicted from the jungle, it’s time to take a look at Ashley’s best bits in English football.
WATFORD PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL GOAL
It seems like an eternity ago that Young was billed as one of English football’s hot new prospects while plying his trade for Championship side Watford. An 18-year-old Ashley scored on his debut after coming on as substitute in game versus Millwall way back in 2003. Then a pacey striker, he played an integral role in Watford’s promotion to the Premier League during the 2005/06 season with a crucial goal during the club’s play-off semi-final against Crystal Palace.
ASTON VILLA RECORD SIGNING
Young’s form for the Hornets attracted interest from a host of England’s top clubs and the 21-year-old eventually signed for Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa for a club record fee of £9.5m. During his four-and-a-half-year spell with the club, Villa were consistent top-four challengers, with Young a pivotal component of O’Neill’s side. Operating on either flank or just off the striker, he netted 59 goals in 190 appearances for the Midlands outfit.
— AVFC Goals (@avfcgoals) October 25, 2016
39 CAPS FOR ENGLAND
Not long after his record-breaking transfer to Villa, then England boss Steve McClaren called Young up to the full national side. He made his debut in November 2007 during a 1-0 friendly win against Austria, coming on as a half-time substitute. He was a regularly called-up by McClaren but failed to make Fabio Capello’s 2010 World Cup squad. The winger scored six goals in his next 16 appearances for the Three Lions before entering a four-year hiatus from the national side. He was recalled for the 2018 World Cup by Gareth Southgate, adding another eight caps to his tally.
MAN UNITED SKIPPER
Think of a Manchester United captain and I’m sure the likes of Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson and Roy Keane spring to mind. When Sir Alex Ferguson signed the winger from Aston Villa back in 2011, very few would have predicted Ashley Young would go on to skipper the Old Trafford club. However, you get the feeling his appointment as captain this summer was down to his 9-year service to the club, not his leadership qualities on the field. The longevity of Young’s United career is in no small part down to his versatility and unselfishness. Having arrived at Old Trafford as a goal scoring winger, some could argue he sacrificed personal glory and perhaps even his international career by filling in anywhere on the pitch required of him.
BIRD SHITS IN HIS MOUTH FROM A GREAT HEIGHT
Despite an illustrious 17-year career, during which he reached a World Cup semi-final and won both Europa and Premier League medals, Ashley Young will probably be best remembered for the time a bird in shit his mouth.
Then 29, Young was playing in Manchester United’s 2014/15 season opener against Swansea when TV cameras caught the wing-back copping a mouthful of bird shit.
It’s believed being shat upon from a great height will bring good fortune. Sadly, it wasn’t the case on that occasion as United lost the game 2-1 and all he had to show for 90mins of running was a mouthful of excrement.