It’s hard to remember a time when a player sounded as genuinely delighted to be a Manchester United player as Daniel James is. Having signed from Swansea in the summer for £15m, the 21-year-old already has three goals in his seven Premier League appearances.
Speaking to the BBC, he talks of how his disbelief over being a United player and that he would sign a 15-year contract tomorrow if he could.
I wanted to play as many games as I could but didn’t think it would happen so quickly. I still don’t believe I’m a Manchester United player, it’s the stuff you dream of. Even though I’m in the changing room and I know I am, you still have to pinch yourself every night that you can say you’re a Manchester United player. To play here is an honour that I’ll grasp every game. I’ve started better than I thought I would.
This club is amazing. Coming out at the Theatre of Dreams is unbelievable. I’ll always love it and never get used to the sound of the fans. I want to be at the club my whole career. When I see scarves or shirts, I think: ‘Why have they got my name on? They could have Pogba or Rashford or Lingard.’ When people ask for pictures, I’ll think: ‘You don’t want one of me, you want one with them.’
James joined League One side Shrewsbury in June 2017 on loan from Swansea but the move was terminated two months later after he failed to make a single appearance. It was at this point that James first began to doubt whether he had a career in football, and this lingered in to the next season when he asked the manager should he go out on loan again.
I came back and thought: ‘Is football really for me? Can I make it?’ I played my first game. I came on against Birmingham. It wasn’t my best game. I said to the manager would I be able to go on loan to Yeovil, who were League Two at the time? I said I feel I need to go out and get experience and he said: ‘No, I think you’ve got a chance here.’ If someone told me I’d be at Manchester United a year later I’d tell them to shut up. Everything has happened so quickly.