Former player, Danny Higgingbotham, is returning to Old Trafford this weekend with Stoke, and is hoping for a better result than most he’s had since coming to our ground with his team.

“I still support United,” he said. “To be able to go and play in front of such a large crowd, at a big stadium, against your boyhood team, it doesn’t get much better.”

Well, apart from playing for your boyhood team?

Higginbotham is a local lad who played for United’s academy as a teenager. He was sent to Royal Antwerp on loan, like most of our hopeful players for the future, where he almost found himself banned from football for a year. In an incident with a referee left him with a suspended sentence, meaning he had to be on his best behaviour to escape the year long ban, facing four months out instead.

He left United when he was 22-years-old, after failing to reach the potential required to make it at United, costing £2 million back in 2000. This made Danny a pretty expensive player, considering he had just four appearances for United before the sale.

He has since signed for Southampton and Stoke City, before making the trip a lot of former reds have, up to Roy Keane’s Sunderland. He has since returned to Stoke City in the summer for £2.5 million.

“At the end of the day it’s a football match, and you can’t let sentiment get in the way of that, but it’s still always a great feeling to go back and play at Old Trafford,” he continued. “When I first went back with Derby it was special. It was the next-to-last game of the season and we needed a win to stay up, and we won 1-0. Everybody was celebrating on the day because we’d stayed up and United had already won the league. I’ve had a few hammerings since, though, and it’s always really tough against United. They’re a great team with an unbelievable work ethic, and I believe they can win the Premier League and the Champions League again this year – they’re that good.”

How has Danny got on during his return visits to Old Trafford?

05/05/01 – United 0 Derby 1
12/12/01 – United 5 Derby 0
31/01/04 – United 3 Southampton 2
04/12/04 – United 3 Southampton 0
01/09/07 – United 1 Sunderland 0