15 players you forgot played for Man Utd – from Celtic icon to Chelsea reject

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Manchester United had countless memorable stars that featured during the unprecedented success they enjoyed under Sir Alex Ferguson, but many were not quite as impressive as expected.

For every Wayne Rooney there is a Guiseppe Rossi, for every Rio Ferdinand there is a Ryan Shawcross, and even the most meticulous of Red Devils fans are likely to have forgotten one or two.

Sometimes the pressure of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world can be too much to handle, and other times player simply didn’t get enough of a chance to shine.

Daily Star Sport have now put together a list of 15 players, 14 of which who took to the field for United during Ferguson’s reign, who were not able to find their best form.

Peter Beardsley

Peter Beardsley is well remembered for his time playing for Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle and England – but many will have forgotten his time at United.

The winger joined United from Vancouver Whitecaps back in 1982 having spent time with Newcastle as a youngster and making his name with Carlisle.

He would make only one appearance for the club in a League Cup tie before rejoining Newcastle for a fee of £150,000 where we would spend another four seasons.

Zoran Tosic

Zoran Tosic has gone on to prove his quality for both CSKA Moscow and the Serbia national team after failing to make the grade at Old Trafford.

Having joined the club from Partizan back in 2009, the forward made five senior appearances across two seasons before joining Koln on loan and CSKA permanently.

The 33-year-old went on to make 241 outings for the club winning three league titles before returning to Partizan, leaving for Taizhou Yuanda in China last year.

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  • Dong Fangzhou

    Dong Fangzhou’s time at United has baffled supporters for years, with his service to the team adding up to zero goals across one start and two substitute outings.

    Following an initial fee of £500,000 in a deal with Dalian Shide, he immediately joined Royal Antwerp on loan and scored 34 times in 71 league outings.

    The former China international has not given a senior squad number for the 2008/09 campaign, and his contract was mutually terminated before he agreed a deal with former side Dalian Shide.

    Danny Simpson

    Danny Simpson spent seven years as a United player between 2003 and 2010, and was loaned out on six different occasions before joining Newcastle and eventually winning the title with Leicester.

    The right-back made only eight appearances for the club in all competitions, but enjoyed lengthy spells with the two aforementioned clubs as well as QPR before retiring at Huddersfield Town.

    Simpson’s lasting achievement will be his importance to Leicester during their Premier League winning season of 2015/16 under Claudio Ranieri.

    Gabriel Obertan

    Gabriel Obertan was a United player between 2009 and 2011 after leaving Bordeaux.

    The former France youth international made 28 appearances for the club across two seasons, scoring once in an away win over Bursaspor in the Champions League.

    Obertan left Old Trafford to join Newcastle in 2011, and remained on the books for five years before spells with Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan, Levski Sofia and now BB Erzurumspor.

    Mame Biram Diouf

    Mame Biram Diouf spent three years at United between 2009 and 2012 after making his name with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s former club Molde.

    The Senegal international scored once across nine outings for the Red Devils, scoring on his debut against Burnley after coming on for Wayne Rooney.

    Diouf spent a season on loan at Blackburn before joining Hannover, and subsequently spent six years at Stoke scoring 25 goals across 157 appearances before signing for Hatayspor last year.

    Shinji Kagawa

    Shinji Kagawa spent two seasons at United after leaving Borussia Dortmund in 2012, one of which was a title winning season under Ferguson and the other under David Moyes.

    The Japan hero didn’t quite find his best form despite a hat-trick against Norwich City, and ended up back in the Bundesliga with his former side in 2014.

    After leaving in 2019, he spent time with Zaragoza in Spain before joining PAOK this year.

    Danny Drinkwater

    Another title winner with Leicester that spent time at United is Danny Drinkwater, who was on the books at Old Trafford between 1999 and 2012 before joining the Foxes.

    Drinkwater had four separate loan spells away from United and failed to make a first-team appearance, but made it big with the Foxes to lift the Premier League trophy.

    That earned him a big money move to Chelsea and an England call-up, but he has since slipped down the pecking order with both and is currently with Kasimpasa in Turkey.

    Tom Heaton

    Tom Heaton has made his name as one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League in recent seasons having learned his trade with United.

    The England stopper was at the club between 2002 and 2010, but was loaned out six times before joining Cardiff without a first-team appearance.

    More recent successes have come with Burnley and Aston Villa, as well as three international caps.

    Josh King

    Josh King recently earned a move back into the Premier League with Everton after impressing with Bournemouth in the top flight before their relegation.

    The Norway striker was a United player between 2008 and 2013, playing twice for the senior side before joining Blackburn Rovers and then the Cherries.

    The 29-year-old has failed to make an impact so far at Goodison, looks likely to find a fresh challenge when that loan ends in the summer.

    Giuseppe Rossi

    Giuseppe Rossi career has been hampered by injuries since he left United in 2007 having first linked up with Ferguson in 2004.

    The United States born Italy international scored four times in 14 outings for the Red Devils, and joined Villarreal following loans at Newcastle and Parma.

    Following an impressive 82 goals in 192 outings he joined Fiorentina, but could only play the majority of a single season in which he scored 16 goals in 21 league outings.

    Following a trial with Real Salt Lake last season, he is without a club.

    Danny Higginbotham

    Danny Higginbotham was a United player between 1994 and 2000, making four Premier League appearances before joining Derby County on a permanent deal.

    Spells with Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, and Sheffield United followed before time with Chester and finally Altrincham in 2014.

    Higginbotham is also known for representing Gibraltar, and even played for them after his club retirement.

    Henrik Larsson

    Celtic legend Henrik Larsson enjoyed a very short loan spell at United after joining Helsingborgs from Barcelona having left Scotland with 242 goals and four league titles.

    The Sweden hero scored against Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Watford in the Premier League.

    Larsson would go on to play for Raa in 2012 and Hogaborg in 2013 – more recently joining the Barcelona coaching staff under their new boss Ronald Koeman.

    Ryan Shawcross

    Ryan Shawcross is best known for his 13 year spell at Stoke between 2007 and 2021, but he came through the ranks at United from 2002 before leaving for the Potters.

    Shawcross only made two appearances before making 453 with Stoke, recently joining United hero Phil Neville at Inter Miami ahead of the new MLS season.

    The 33-year-old also made a single appearance for his country back in 2012, but during his 16 minutes on the pitch Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick for Sweden.

    Gerard Pique

    Last but by no means least is Barcelona icon Gerard Pique.

    The World Cup and Champions League winning defender was at the United between 2004 and 2008, making a total of 12 appearances in the Premier League before heading back to Spain.

    The 34-year-old is unlikely to look back on his time with England with too many regrets, going on to make his name as one of the finest defenders in recent football history.

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    • Manchester United FC
    • Premier League
    • Sir Alex Ferguson
    • Champions League
    • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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