Shoot­ing Star

How Maio­rana fizzed and crashed

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

With the likes of Paddy McNair and Tyler Black­ett be­ing given a chance in the Manch­ester United first team in re­cent weeks, we take a look at the story of Gi­u­liano Maio­rana, one of the orig­i­nal ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ whose rapid rise from Non-League foot­ball to the Manch­ester United first team is likely never to be re­peated.

When Gi­u­liano first heard United were look­ing at him, he thought it was a joke; he was play­ing for Histon part time and had al­ready been turned down by Cam­bridge United, Brent­ford and Nor­wich City.

He was given a trial but wasn’t very hope­ful. “When I found out United were look­ing at me, I hon­estly thought it was a wind up con­sid­er­ing I was 19 at the time and that Cam­bridge United had told me on a few oc­ca­sions I wasn’t good enough for them,” he said. “I thought my one week trial at Manch­ester United would come to noth­ing.”

In only the sec­ond day of his trial, Gi­u­liano was picked in the squad to play in a tes­ti­mo­nial match for Birm­ing­ham City’s Ian Handy­side and per­formed so well he was of­fered a four-year con­tract after be­ing sub­sti­tuted at half time. “Be­ing picked to play in the tes­ti­mo­nial was a big sur­prise to me,” he said. “It was a Tues­day night and be­fore the game I got told I was in the start­ing line-up which shocked me even more be­cause it was with the first team squad.

“Play­ing in front of 10,000 peo­ple was nerve rack­ing but I didn’t do too bad, I got a penalty and at half-time they brought me off and of­fered me a four year con­tract. It took me only around six weeks to break into the first team. My scout Ray Med­well told me what I had achieved would not hap­pen again, be­cause at the time Histon were five leagues be­low the old Fourth Di­vi­sion.”

The trans­fer fee United paid Histon saved them from go­ing out of business and Maio­rana made his de­but on 14th Jan­uary 1989, com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute in a league match against Mill­wall at Old Traf­ford. He re­mem­bers feel­ing slightly over­whelmed by the sit­u­a­tion. He said: “When I came on as sub I re­mem­ber run­ning down the wing and be­cause I was breath­ing heavy, my ears kept block­ing and un­block­ing. All I could hear fad­ing in and out of my ears was United, United, United!

“As this hap­pened I looked around the sta­dium and sud­denly it dawned on me the mag­ni­tude of the sit­u­a­tion I was in. There were around 45,000 peo­ple at the game and only six weeks be­fore I was play­ing in front of 50-60 peo­ple. I was used to watch­ing pro­fes­sional games but all of a sud­den I was thrust into a game, which the sup­port­ers were watch­ing, that I was play­ing in. It was ridicu­lous and awein­spir­ing.”

The skil­ful left winger rose to promi­nence in his first start for the club with an ex­cit­ing per­for­mance in a tele­vised 1-1 draw against Arse­nal, who fin­ished the sea­son as league cham­pi­ons. It looked like the start of a long and promis­ing ca­reer and he was seen as a star of the fu­ture at Old Traf­ford.

Then a cruel twist of fate in­ter­vened. While play­ing in a re­serve game in 1991 Gi­u­liano suf­fered a se­ri­ous knee in­jury after a tackle from As­ton Villa’s Dwight Yorke. He was un­able to fully re­cover. He never played for the first team again, even­tu­ally leav­ing the club in 1994 and, after a brief spell play­ing in Swe­den, he re­tired at the age of 24.

In to­tal Gi­u­liano made eight ap­pear­ances for United. “Ob­vi­ously play­ing for the first team was a dream, but the flip side was get­ting in­jured when I was 21 and hav­ing to re­tire at 24,” he said. “A jour­nal­ist once asked me after read­ing in a pa­per about the skill I had, if it made me feel proud.

“I re­sponded that I was very lucky to have been blessed with the skill I did have, but it would’ve made my life a hell of a lot eas­ier if I didn’t have it and United would’ve re­leased me be­cause I wasn’t good enough. Then at least I could’ve got on with my life think­ing that I had given it a go and wasn’t good enough. In­stead I’ve got a ques­tion mark over my ca­reer, that un­for­tu­nately for me I will never be able to an­swer.”

Now 45, Gi­u­liano works for his fam­ily’s up­hol­stery business.

“I only play five-a-side now against friends, noth­ing se­ri­ous just for en­joy­ment,” he said. “I also help coach my son’s team. I get a lot of plea­sure do­ing it.

“I may not be rich, but I’m happy and rich with life, so I can’t com­plain.”

Sir Alex, Maio­rana and Bryan Rob­son

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