| 12.8°C Dublin

rising star 'There was always this buzz around him' - Rio Ferdinand on why Man United need Jadon Sancho


Jadon Sancho has signed for Manchester United

Jadon Sancho has signed for Manchester United

Jadon Sancho has signed for Manchester United

THERE was a buzz around the young Jadon Sancho that is only associated with a special talent.

Sublimely talented, obsessed with football and having limited interest in school life as he told his teacher he wanted to play for England, the youngster who has sealed a mega-money move to Manchester United was dreaming big from the off.

As he played in the cages that housed the all-weather sports courts near his home in Kennington, south London, young Jadon imagined he would one day be scoring Champions League winning goals in Chelsea blue.

Growing up at a time when Roman Abramovich was rewriting the London football landscape at Chelsea, Sancho fell in love with the success inspired by his two biggest heroes Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

Yet as the 21-year-old hopes to make his first appearance in a major international tournament as England kick-off their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia at Wembley this afternoon, he can reflect on a journey to the top that has been far from conventional.

On the books at Watford when he was just seven-years-old, Sancho was snapped up by Manchester City scouts at the age of 15, with City paying the nominal fee of £66,000 to lure him into their Etihad Academy set-up.

Back then, there was a feeling he lacked the physicality to make it at the highest level, yet his talent was never in doubt and, as his body shape developed, the genius waiting to escape became evident to the football world.

As Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand told the Sunday World in an exclusive interview, the football grapevine in west London had been rippling with excitement for some time over what was possible from the best young player to emerge from the area in many a year.

"I've known Jadon through friends of mine, I've known his family for a long time and there was always this buzz around him," Ferdinand told the Sunday World at a BT Sport event.

"Who is this Sancho kid? It's a question I was asking my friends in that part of London a few years back and when a special player comes through, word gets out there.

"I remember when he went to Man City, I wondered whether Manchester United had missed a trick by not trying to get him, but the jump from kids football to the next level is not easy and he found that.

"What I liked about his decision to go to Dortmund was the kid was ready to take himself out of his comfort zone.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

"At 17, it would have been easy to stay at City or go to a club somewhere else in England, but he had the mentality to leave Man City and try and better himself. He backed himself to succeed in Germany, and it was a big decision for a kid of his age.

"Now we are seeing what Jadon Sancho is all about. He didn't want to wait to see if he'd get into the City team. He felt he was ready to play at the top level and he went to Germany, so credit to him for taking the step and credit again for making a success of it."

Ferdinand has been urging United to make a move to sign Sancho for the last couple of years - and he is hoping their latest push to sign him will finally get the deal done.


Ferdinand reckons Sancho would inspire United.

Ferdinand reckons Sancho would inspire United.

Ferdinand reckons Sancho would inspire United.

"I have said for a long time that if he is available, Manchester United should get him," he added.

"They should have got him last summer and they need to get him this summer. He's English, hungry, talented, has got it all - and he's only 21. It's a no-brainer. You go and get him.

"He would make a massive difference to United. Put him in there with Bruno Fernandes, let him add a bit of magic to the attacking side of the team and he will fly at United."

Phil Foden's progress from the Manchester City academy to their first team suggests Sancho could have plotted a path into Pep Guardiola's plans after all, yet there is no doubt that Sancho's progress was accelerated by his bold decision to move to Germany.

He has played 140 first-team games for Dortmund over the last four years and established himself as one of the best players in the Bundesliga, inspiring his employers to slap a €120m price tag on his head last summer.

Amid a global pandemic, it proved to be a price United couldn't afford to pay, but now he is destined to join his great friend Marcus Rashford at Old Trafford, with Dortmund currently finalising the fine points of a deal they hope will be worth around €90m.

Manchester City will get 15 per cent of that fee as part of the deal they agreed with Dortmund four years ago, with Guardiola insisting he has no regrets over Sancho's rise since he left.


Jadon Sancho left Manchester City in 2017 (Martin Rickett/Adam Davy/PA)

Jadon Sancho left Manchester City in 2017 (Martin Rickett/Adam Davy/PA)

Jadon Sancho left Manchester City in 2017 (Martin Rickett/Adam Davy/PA)

"I've said many times, it's not a regret. He decided to leave and that was it," states Guardiola of Sancho.

"He's doing really well. He's an exceptional player and I could see this when he was with us.

"When people decide to leave all we can do is let them leave. Nobody knows what might happen if he stayed with us.

"Maybe he stays here and he doesn't make it. Maybe something else, but we will never know. Every person decides what life they lead."

The waiting game at City didn't appeal to Sancho and now he is set to return to a familiar city as a bona fide superstar, worthy of wearing Manchester United's famous red shirt.

Having achieved so much at such a young age, few would bet against the talented Sancho achieving those lofty goals.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices