Manchester United Class of ’92 - the end of an era

There was a news story this week that saddened me as I read it. Gary Neville is retiring from playing soccer at the age of 35. Gary Neville, although not one of the most technically gifted players in the world, was still one of the best, if not the best full back over the last 20 years for both Manchester United and England . What he lacked in skill, he made up for it with commitment, passion and a love of the game. Probably the biggest thing that made me sad though was the realization that the amazing class of '92 was coming to an end.

Who was in the class of 1992?

When Sir Alex Ferguson took the reigns at Manchester United in 1986, they were in a sorry state, with aging players and little money, Ferguson knew he had to build from within, and he quickly set about building, and developing the youth academy at the club.

By the early 90's there were rumors that there were a crop of youngsters at the club that could possibly be better than the Busby Babes, and before long, the world saw the amazing amount of talent that Alex Ferguson had at his finger tips, and it was all because of the excellent youth system he had developed.

After winning the youth version of the F.A Cup, Sir Alex unleashed the youngsters on the Premier League. Nobody had ever heard the names of the young guns, but they would soon become household names. Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, were all part of the class of 92, as were Keith Gillespie and Robbie Savage, both of whom went on to play for different Premier League teams other than United, but they only left because they played in the same positions as the others.

"You can't win anything with kids"

After fielding his young guns, Sir Alex was hit with a barrage of criticism from fellow professionals and the media. Alan Hansen Who was a footballing legend himself, was working as a football reporter when he said "You can't win anything with kids", those words will never be forgotten and he still has egg on his face to this day. The amount of success that those youngsters brought to Manchester United has never been repeated.

With Sir Alex guiding the ship and having all the faith in the world in his young guns, United went on to win many trophies and competitions. In 1992 they won the league cup, and then the following year United won the league for the first time since 1967. In 1994 the club completed the double by winning both the Premier League and the F.A Cup for the first time since 1957.

The future was very bright for the club, and they went on to win many more trophies. 1999 was the most successful year in the clubs history as they went on to win the League, the F.A Cup and the UEFA Champions League, a feat that had never been performed before by any other English club. That same season they also won the Intercontinental cup. After so much success, Sir Alex was knighted for his services to football.

The end of an era

While most of the class of 92 still play today, they are coming to the end of their careers, with Gary Neville being the first to retire due to injury. Paul Scholes is still a regular for United at 36 years of age, as is Ryan Giggs who is now the most decorated player in English footballing history. David Beckham was sold by United after a falling out with Ferguson , and now is seeing out his playing days in America with the L.A Galaxy, while Phil Neville turns out for Everton these days.

Back in 1992 I am sure that nobody other than Sir Alex knew what he had on his hands. He worked hard and created the most successful youth system in England . All of these players went on to become the biggest stars in world football, and they are still household names around the world today.

It is shame that we are coming to the end of an era. I will never forget watching these players playing their first games for the club, and I will never forget the many amazing memories they gave me and countless others through the years playing for both club, and countries.

The class of 92 was the best ever for Manchester United and English football in general. While United have some excellent young players on their books now, I do not think the class of 92 will ever be beaten, by United themselves or any other club. The players that were the class of 92 will always remain the best in the hearts of many.

*Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor.

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