The United stars enjoyed a kick about before answered questions and giving advice about their experiences of breaking through to the professional game and having a career at Manchester United.
Set up four years ago, the development squad brings players together from the Street Reds evening football sessions across Greater Manchester. The participants, aged 16-19, have been identified as showing footballing potential and receive support from Manchester United Foundation coaches to progress their talents. The 12-month programme offers players a structured season and playing time to improve their knowledge and skill while opening up opportunities to trial with semi-professional and non-league clubs.
17-year-old Sidiki was one of the group who benefited directly from Matteo Darmian and Victor Lindelof’s coaching. He said, “I want to be a defender and it was really interesting for me to ask the players specific questions about defending and how I can improve.
“I got a lot from their answers; one of the players talked to me about the advantages of being able to play with two feet. It’s not the most important thing, but it can really help. Since then I’ve tried to focus on that in my game.”
Sidiki added, “I went to Stretford Street Reds for years and I was invited to attend the development team. I’ve enjoyed and learnt so much in the last 12 months and now I’ve got trials coming up. I’m hoping I will get picked up by a local club and that I can continue to develop to become a professional player.”
Italian defender Matteo Darmian spoke enthusiastically about his own experiences and life after football. He said, “One of the players, who is a defender, asked me questions about how you face a striker in one-on-one situations. I gave him some advice which I hope helped.
“We talked about my future after football and I was honest because I don’t know what I want to do, but I know I want to stay in football and maybe it will be working with kids.
“I think us supporting programmes like this is a good thing for the young players because they’re getting the chance to learn and play in the right environment.”
Manchester United Foundation Street Reds sessions are aimed at young people aged 8-18 and are held at 12 sites across Greater Manchester. For more information visit mufoundation.org/streetreds.