“He had everything required for a player in his position.”
Wayne Rooney has said that Ravel Morrison was better than Paul Pogba by a “country mile” when the pair were teenagers at Manchester United.
Morrison was part of the same Man United youth team as Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard.
The midfielder was regarded as the best player in the side, but, amid off the field issues, was allowed to leave the club and join West Ham United in January 2012.
Rooney on why Morrison didn’t fulfil his potential
Since then, Morrison’s career has brought him to Lazio in Italy, Atlas in Mexico and Östersunds FK in Sweden. He spent the 2019/20 season with Sheffield United and is currently a free agent.
Needless to say, the teenage prodigy has not fulfilled his potential. Meanwhile, his former teammate Pogba has won the World Cup and four Serie A titles. He was the most expensive footballer in history for a time.
However, Rooney reckons that Ravel was significantly more talented than Pogba.
“He nutmegged Nemanja Vidic three times in the space of a minute in one training game”.
The former Manchester United captain cites Morrison as an example of a player who never came close to fulfilling their potential due to off-field issues.
“I remember watching Ravel Morrison thinking he had everything required for a player in his position,” Rooney recalled in his column for The Sunday Times.
“Morrison was brilliant. He was confident. He nutmegged Nemanja Vidic three times in the space of a minute in one training game. But he struggled with lifestyle and his environment which was sad for him — because I saw Paul Pogba come through, Jesse Lingard, all these players and Ravel was better than any of them by a country mile.”
Rooney on why Gary Neville had such a brilliant career
Rooney compared and contrasted Morrison’s career with that of Gary Neville, a less-talented player, but someone who worked extremely hard in every training session to improve.
“He’s proof that you can’t escape the fact there are guidelines every player has to obey in professional football. Some players live right on the edge of them but stick just inside and still succeed. Then you think how far you can go by being ultra-professional. Gary Neville, for instance.
“Gary’s not a great football player, but he worked in every minute of every training session and made the most of everything he had. He had a fantastic career through hard work. Full respect.”
The former Manchester United captain says that Neville embodied the values and principles championed by Alex Ferguson.
“Sir Alex Ferguson used to say the hardest thing in life is to work hard every day. Forget all your ability, strip everything back: if you can work hard every day, in whatever job you do you’ll be successful.”
Rio Ferdinand supports Rooney’s opinion of Morrison.
Ferdinand on Morrison
In 2018, Ferdinand stated that the midfielder was, without any question, the best young player he had seen and, unfortunately, the most talented player he knew that never fulfilled their potential.
Ferdinand recalled Ferguson taking him and Rooney aside one day to speak about Morrison.
“Sir Alex called me and Wazza over one day. He said, ‘look, this kid is better than you when you were a kid Wayne, better than you Rio, better than Ryan Giggs’. ‘This is the best kid you’ll ever see’.”
"Sir Alex called me and Wazza over one day and said 'look, this kid is better than you when you were a kid Wayne, better than Rio and Ryan Giggs'."
"This is the best kid you'll ever see."
Rio Ferdinand explains why Ravel Morrison just couldn't quite fulfil his potential… 🤔 pic.twitter.com/G7gOXJmCy6
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 20, 2018
Ferguson on Morrison
While, in his book Leading, Ferguson lamented that Morrison never overcame the difficulties in his personal life. As the player had enormous potential.
“Sadly there are examples of players who have similar backgrounds to Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo who, despite enormous natural talent, just aren’t emotionally or mentally strong enough to overcome the hurts of their childhood and their inner demons,” Ferguson wrote.
“Ravel Morrison might be the saddest case. He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed, but he kept getting into trouble.
“It was painful to sell him to West Ham in January 2012 because he could have been a fantastic player.
“But, over a period of several years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and so we had little option but to cut the cord.”
Originally published on May 3, 2020.