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Keane thriving ahead of Everton transfer after Manchester United kept the faith in him aged 16

Date Posted,June 30, 2017

Michael Keane was almost left on football’s scrapheap at the age of just 16 – after a growth spurt.

The 24-year-old England ­defender’s extraordinary rise to stardom will hit new heights when his £25million move from Burnley to Everton is be ­rubber-stamped this week.

But things could have turned out very differently had Paul McGuinness, Manchester ­United’s former Under-18 coach, not shown faith in the player when others were ­wavering.

Keane was given a ­second chance on the insistence of McGuiness – and the centre-back has not looked back. He left Old Trafford for Turf Moor for a fee of £2m in the 2015 January transfer window and has since emerged as one of the country’s most ­outstanding young defenders.

Keane had to leave United to progress further (Photo: John Peters)
United showed faith in Keane early in his career (Photo: Matthew Peters)
Manchester United U18s manager Paul McGuinness
Paul McGuinness showed faith in Keane (Photo: Getty)

McGuinness, who left Old Trafford in February 2016, said: “When Michael was turning 16, we had to make a decision about whether to make players a full-time offer as a scholar.

“Michael was going through a growth spurt at the time and when you’re already tall, that can cause even bigger problems.

“His legs got longer and his body hadn’t grown strong enough to cope with that. He was gangly, which then affected his ­technique.

“People were saying he wasn’t good enough. We told him that his body wasn’t really ready for training twice a day and that he was ­better off carrying on at school and doing his A levels ­before coming in at night and ­training with the under-18s.

Keane is set to leave Burnley for Everton this summer (Photo: Mark Robinson)
Keane has progressed into the senior England squad (Photo: Getty)
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“We did exactly the same thing with Tom Cleverly and Jesse ­Lingard.”

So determined was Keane to be a ­success at Old ­Trafford that he ­ultimately left St Bede’s College in Manchester and paid for his own ­private tutor to spend as ­possible playing ­football.

With Keane still not being paid as a full-time scholar and only receiving ­expenses from his club. It proved to be an investment that paid off ­handsomely for all ­parties.

“We told Sir Alex ­Ferguson what he was doing and the kind of dedication he was showing,” said McGuinness.

Keane impressed with United’s youth teams before moving on (Photo: Andrew Powell)
Ferguson liked what he saw early in Keane’s career (Photo: Daily Record)
Keane was taken on United’s tour of the United States in 2014 (Photo: Matthew Peters)

“Sir Alex arranged to pay for the tutor and that led to him getting a contract and going on to play with the reserves.

“The vital thing is to play games. At that point, all the coaching staff had seen his ­potential and thought he had a chance to play in the first team.

“I suppose – similar to Gerard Pique – he needed to go ­somewhere else to get a run of games and prove himself again.”

Keane has done just that at Burnley – and now Everton will hope to reap the rewards.

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