Crawley Town defender Kyle McFadzean will be hoping to prove a point to those who he claims let him down at the start of his career when he sets about shackling one of the most feared attacks in the country at Old Trafford today.
McFadzean thought he was destined to spend the whole of his career at the club he supported as a child, Sheffield United, when he penned his first professional contract having come through the club’s youth academy. The centre-half was given a squad number for the 2005-06 season, when the Blades won promotion to the Barclays Premier League, but did not play.
Tragedy struck for the young defender, then 19, when one of his friends died after crashing into a bus on his way back from watching an England game.
McFadzean admits he was left stunned by the accident but was also upset at how he claims the club treated him in the aftermath of the crash.
“Two of my mates were in a car crash after a head-on collision with a bus and one of them died,” he explained.
“I spoke to United, asked them for the day off for the funeral and they didn’t believe me so I just left.”
McFadzean refused to answer the club’s calls and spent a few months out of the game, piling on three stone, before Alfreton Town manager Nicky Law handed the defender a new contract at the Conference North side after he proved his fitness.
“I lost my love of the game but he helped me get it back, I owe everything to Nicky Law,” McFadzean said.
After three season at Alfreton, McFadzean was spotted by Crawley manager Steve Evans, who tabled a “substantial” bid for him that was accepted in August 2010.
The 23-year-old has blossomed under Evans, making his way into the England C team, and playing all five of Crawley’s FA Cup games on the way to securing a battle with the league leaders United.
The Crawley players left their 4,500 capacity Broadfield Stadium yesterday and stopped in Manchester last night ahead of today’s televised game at Old Trafford.
Bookmakers have made Crawley 35-1 to win against the record 11-times cup winners, but McFadzean believes his side can pull off an upset.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.
“I might not be able to play at Old Trafford again so we have to take our chances when they come.”
With a Champions League match in Marseille in midweek to think about, Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to name a second-string XI for the game with the Blue Square Premier side.
Whatever happens in his tussle between McFadzean and United striker Wayne Rooney during the game, the muscular defender is hoping to make sure he takes home the striker’s shirt after the final whistle.
He said: “There’ll be a big queue for his shirt but hopefully I will see him before and jump ahead of everyone else to get it.”