Ravel Morrison is a name that sticks in the mind of Manchester United fans, not because he turned out to be a quality player, but because he was one of the most disappointing cases of unfilled potential.
Breaking onto the scene alongside Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison was considered to be a part of a golden crop of players – those who would rise out of the academy system to emulate, even in part, the success of the iconic Class of ’92.
However, in football, there are two key trials a fledging must face if they wish to be initiated into stardom, and Ravel Morrison failed in the most important.
Having joined Manchester United’s ranks aged eight, scouted from the illustrious Fletcher Moss Rangers, the same side who produced Marcus Rashford, signing a scholarship in 2009 shortly followed by a professional contract with the club in February 2010. Though, at 17-years-old, and within a week of fulfilling the dream, he found himself arrested by local police and later convicted for intimidating a knifepoint robbery witness, whom he seemingly believed was due to testify in the trial against his friends.
Shortly after Morrison found himself back in court, this time for a violent dispute with his girlfriend, in which he was accused and convicted of criminal damage and referred to Salford’s youth offending team.
Like the calm at the eye of the storm, all this mayhem occurred outside of his contrastingly beautiful performances on the pitch.
Indeed, the former United man strutted his stuff so capably alongside Jesse Lingard and Pogba on their journey to the FA Youth Cup final, drawing exciting similarities to club legend Paul Scholes – a man, ironically, known for his anonymity off the field.
Morrison helped himself to a goal in his side’s comeback against Chelsea overturning a 3-2 aggregate, before providing a brace in the final at Bramall Lane to help bring home the FA Youth Cup for the first time since 2003.
His success should have promised so much; like Giggs, Scholes and Beckham, the FA Youth Cup had proven to be the right of passage into the dizzying heights of Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams.
It proved to be anything but for Morrison.
The once highly thought of prospect watched his opportunities slowly dissipate into the squalor of obscurity, and with the time on his contract slowly running out, with scant chance of renewal, he parted ways with his boyhood club to join West Ham.
“Sadly, there are examples of players who have similar backgrounds to Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo, who, despite enormous talent, just aren’t emotionally or mentally strong enough to overcome the hurts of their childhood and their inner demons. Ravel Morrison might be the saddest case,” Ferguson wrote in his 2015 book, Leading (via These Football Times).
“He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed but kept getting into trouble. It was very painful to sell him … he could have been a fantastic player. But, over a period of years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and we had little option but to cut the cord.”
Now 26-years-old, Morrison has managed brief periods playing on loan for Birmingham, QPR, Cardiff, before moving to Lazio permanently, and though Italy proved to be just as fruitless, spending time on loan in Mexico for Atlas, his most recent move to Ostersund in Sweden could be the start of something new.
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