Warrington born James Chester, who joined Hull in 2011, has spoken about the early days of his career spent at Manchester United.
He joined the academy when he was 8-years-old, coming from a family of United supporters, and signed on as a trainee when he was 16-years-old.
“I went when I was eight or nine and I was there until I signed for Hull when I was 21,” said Chester. “I was a United fan. My mum and dad were United fans, so it was only right for me to go there. When I got scouted, I don’t think I quite realised what it all meant but, as the years went on, I knew. I was playing for a team called Winwick Athletic. It was where my dad grew up and he took me when I was five years old and I played in the Under-nines. The kit buried me. I didn’t really know what I was doing back then but he’s put me on the right track. I used to play right-wing and midfield but when I went to United, they quickly shifted me back.”
Chester was the captain of our Reserves side but his big moment for the first team came in the 2009 League Cup semi-final, when Sir Alex Ferguson opted to give him his debut.
“I came on for Gary Neville and he gave me the armband,” he said. “Then the ball came into play, so I was running around with the armband in my hand for about a minute. I think I gave it to John O’Shea. I was just glad to get rid of it. It was nice for my mum and dad, who were there in the crowd watching me that day.”
Chester has paid tribute to our former manager and reflected on how lucky he was to be a part of the youth set up at United.
“He was great for a young lad. He knew everyone’s name and how you were doing,” Chester said. “If you weren’t doing too well, he wasn’t shy in telling you. I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing in football than having worked under the best manager of our time. For him to know your name and how you’re doing was good. I don’t think I realised how lucky I was until I left United. I probably had the best upbringing a young lad in football could get, with the coaches and the facilities that were there for me. I’m grateful for the time I spent there. Without them, I don’t think I’d be as high up in my career as I am.”