The Story of Giuliano Maiorana

As the ‘Class of 92’ hit cinemas last week, 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 to never be repeated.

When Giuliano first heard that United were looking at him, he thought it was a joke; he was playing non- league football 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 bearing in mind that Cambridge United had told me on a few occasions that I wasn’t good enough for them. I thought my one week trial at Manchester United would come to nothing, other than a week of experience with a massive club”.

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 that he was offered a four-year contract after being substituted at half time: “Being picked to play in Ian Handyside’s testimonial was a big surprise to me, 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 luckily for me 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 straight away. 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”.

Giuliano's rise from the ninth tier of English Football to the Theatre of Dreams, will likely never be repeated...

Giuliano’s rise from the ninth tier of English Football to the Theatre of Dreams, will likely never be repeated…

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, and remembers feeling slightly overwhelmed by the situation he found himself in: “When I came on as a sub I remember after running down the wing, 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 considering 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 awe inspiring”.

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

Giuliano in action for United...

Giuliano in action for United…

In total Giuliano made eight appearances for United and looks back at his time at Old Trafford with mixed emotions: “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. 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 44, Giuliano now works for his family’s upholstery business and still has some involvement in football: “I only play five-a-side now against friends, nothing serious just for enjoyment, getting too old for that. I also help coaching my son’s team. I’ve been doing that for around eight years and get a lot of pleasure and enjoyment doing it.”

Unlike many players whose careers are cut short by injury, Giuliano is happy and has been able to make a good life for himself away from football: “I’ve learnt with age that you always have to look at the positives and for me the positives of my time at United are that I met some really good people up in Manchester, my wife is from Salford and we have two wonderful kids, I’m blessed with a great family.”

“I may not be rich with the money I might have earned as a professional footballer, but I’m happy and rich with life, so I can’t complain.”

Michael Garvey

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Pitchside Supports // Sydney FC

Having decided to follow Sydney FC two weeks ago the A-League side have won both of their matches to storm up to the top half of the table. It would seem Pitchside have been a bit of a lucky charm for the club, but who are Sydney FC and why have we decided to follow them?

As a group of journalism students we have a representation of a number of clubs from the English football pyramid from right here where we are based in Carlisle down as far as London where we have George the Boring, Boring Tottenham Hotspur fan and Tom who supports Fulham in case you hadn’t worked that out.

Unfortunately but also positively this creates a bit of a divide within the camp, we therefore decided it might be good to jump on board with a neutral side, with the league in its early stages we decided to go for an A-League team. This despite the fact I’ve now had to set my alarm for 6 in the morning in order to watch Sydney’s previous two games.

So why Sydney FC? Well other than their kit being quite nice all I need to say really is Alessandro Del Piero.  The man is a legend. With a World Cup, Champions League and six Serie A titles he has done it all. We would rather support the team he is on than the team he is against. Another notable former Sydney player was former Manchester United Champions League winner Dwight Yorke who was with the club in 2006.

The A-League structure may be quite confusing but football in Australia has really started to take off and as such the league can attract some high profile names, usually those approaching the end of their careers.

Founded in 2004, Sydney first entered the A-League for the 2005-6 season where the enjoyed a fantastic campaign, finishing second in the league. A-League rules however meant Sydney would not have to finish runners-up to Adelaide United as they went on to beat Central Coast Mariners in the grand final which the league winners were not even a part of. Too bad Adelaide.

Sydney’s second and last A-League success came in the 2009-10 season where they topped the league and then went on to beat Melbourne Victory 4-2 on penalties in derby game known as “The Big Blue” .

Since then the Sky Blues have fallen off the map a bit, twice failing to make the finals and once being eliminated in the first round. With Pitchside behind them though, surely they cannot fail.

Manager, Frank Farina will be hopeful that Sydney can back into the finals this year and a 6th placed finish would achieve that, we at Pitchside are also hopeful. Hopeful that Farina will recognise Pitchside’s contribution, jet us all to the 45,000 capacity Sydney Football Stadium, and let us all witness the finals for ourselves.

So if you’re looking for a way to make your BT Sport subscription worthwhile or need something to fill your schedule at 6am on a Saturday morning. We urge you to join us and join the Sydney FC revolution.

#SydneyIsSkyBlue

Harry Barker