When Nick Powell joined Manchester United in 2012, he had the world at his feet, but his career never really got out of first gear, and the striker claims he never felt like a United player.
Nick Powell, a former Manchester United superstar, says he doesn’t remember his time at Old Trafford fondly.
Sir Alex Ferguson dubbed him “an exceptional talent” when he signed from Crewe Alexandra as an 18-year-old in 2012, but he only made nine appearances for the Red Devils before being dumped in 2016.
Most footballers would give their left arm to have a brief stint at United on their CV, but Powell feels the four years he spent on the club’s books were insignificant.
“I don’t consider Manchester United to be a part of my career.” It’s a great gesture, but remember, I only played nine games. “It’s not like I was a Manchester United player,” he explained to Sport Bible.
“‘Oh, you played at Old Trafford,’ people say. You played for Manchester United,’ and all I can say is, “Did I really?” I started three games and appeared in six others. It wasn’t very good.
“I just think that because it’s such a big club, people think, ‘Well, most people don’t get to do it,’ but I didn’t get to live it.” I was grateful for the opportunity. I simply did not take it seriously enough.”
After scoring 16 goals for Crewe in his first full season as a professional, including a mesmerizing volley from outside the box in the League Two Play-Off final, the striker, who turned 29 in March, appeared to have the world at his feet.
A few weeks later, United paid £6 million for him, and he made an immediate impact by scoring on his Premier League debut. But that was about it for Powell, who says he was immature, selfish, and lazy at the time.
A non-malignant tumor discovered near the base of his spine a few months later not only kept him out of action for an extended amount of time, but also compelled him to adjust his playing style, and he was never the same after that. Powell was loaned out to Wigan, Leicester, and Hull before being released by United at the end of his contract.
“I wasn’t a Manchester United player,” he clarified. “They were like a machine.” Everyone was a cog, and it functioned perfectly. I played football for fun, whereas they played to win, and it was certainly the most eye-opening experience for me.
“And you know what? I don’t look back and think, ‘Oh cry for me.'” Now that I’m older, I view things differently. What an experience it must be to see that every day. At the very least, I got to see what a top-tier team and club look like. That’s what I get from United.
“Listen, my career might have gone in either direction. I was a slacker till the age of 25. And when you’re lazy, that seven years definitely kills you.”
Powell spent the following seven seasons in the Championship after leaving United, first with Wigan and then with Stoke. Following the conclusion of his contract at the bet365 Stadium in July, he signed for League One club Stockport.