Former Manchester United starlet Nick Powell says he doesn’t remember his stint at Old Trafford all that fondly.

The man Sir Alex Ferguson branded “an exceptional talent” when he joined as an 18-year-old from Crewe Alexandra in 2012 ended up making just nine appearances for the Red Devils before being unceremoniously discarded in 2016.

Most footballers would give their left arm to include a spell at United (however brief) on their CV, but Powell says he doesn’t consider the four years he spent on the club’s books particularly meaningful.

“I don’t really count Manchester United as part of my career. It’s a nice thing to have done but listen, I only played nine games. It’s not like I was a United player,” he told Sport Bible.

“People say, ‘Oh you played at Old Trafford. You played for Man Utd’ and I just say, ‘Did I really? I made three starts and six sub appearances. It wasn’t great.
“I just think, because it’s such a big club people sort of go, ‘Well most people don’t get to do it’ but I didn’t really get to live it. I really appreciated the opportunity. I just didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.”

The striker, who turned 29 in March, looked to have the world at his feet after smashing 16 goals for Crewe in his first full season as a professional – including a mesmerising volley from outside the box in the League Two Play-Off final.

United snapped him up for £6m a few weeks later, and he made an instant impression by scoring on his Premier League debut. But that was about as good as it got for Powell, who admits he was immature, selfish and lazy back then.

The discovery of a non-malignant tumour at the base of his spine a few months later not only kept him out of action for a lengthy period, but also forced him to change his playing style, and he was never really the same after that. Loan moves to Wigan, Leicester and Hull followed before Powell was released by United at the end of his contract.

“I wasn’t a Manchester United player,” he noted. “They were a machine. Everyone was a cog and it worked really well. I played football for the fun of it, whereas they played to win and that was probably the biggest eye-opener for me.

“And do you know what, I don’t look back and go, ‘Oh cry for me.’ Now I’m older and I see things in a different light. I think, what an experience to see that day to day. At least I got to see what a top top team and a club looks like. And that’s what I take from United.
“Listen, my career could have gone either way. I was very lazy until the age of 25. And that seven years probably kills you when you’re lazy.”

After leaving United Powell spent the next seven seasons playing in the Championship, first with Wigan and later with Stoke. In July, he signed for League One outfit Stockport following the expiration of his contract at the bet365 Stadium.

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