Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah Welbeck, known simply as “Welbz” between fans and teammates has made his way through the ranks at United, as a local South Manchester boy.
Scouted from local team Fletcher Moss Rangers, Danny was always destined to become a great. Although he was turned down as a boy by Manchester City, he didn’t let it stop him, and he continued to fight for what he wanted, and became a United player.
As a player of Fletcher Moss myself, I recall the excitement for Danny Welbeck, everyone believed he was going to make it, he was something special. A memory I always remember was when Danny was called up to the England U16’s squad, along with Cameron Stewart and Kyle Bartlett. The memory I have is of complete pride, and elation among staff at the club, they weren’t envious of how well Danny was doing, even back then people thought he was going to make it…and be something big.
Neil Brown, head coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers at the time Danny was playing for them said: “From the minute Danny started with us, you could see he had natural talent, everything was easy for him; his touch, control and vision were all excellent. To coach he was a dream he did what you asked of him”
He continued: “You could always tell he [Welbeck] would make it, but how big you didn’t know. You just hoped for the best and he has excelled. When he played under 9’s it was 5-a-side and we had two teams, one of the strikers was Danny. Teams would dread playing against him, we could be three up, take Danny off to rest him then it was 3-2 so we’d put Danny back on and it was 5-2, game over.”
Bear in mind that at this point Danny Welbeck was an eight-year-old boy, and was spotted by United at this age because he was excelling so dramatically at Fletcher Moss. There is nothing more exciting for a youth team manager, than to have a player that is excelling to the excess Danny clearly was. Neil Brown, and the club clearly thought there was something special in Danny, something rare, and natural that wasn’t necessarily seen in his teammates’ game.
The club couldn’t have been more right; queue 2008, when Danny got his big break, he started appearing in United’s first team squad, and was sent out on loan to better his Football League experience, this only benefitted him in the long run.
Being from South Manchester (yes, contrary to popular belief, there are United fans from Manchester) I have a lot of friends who played against and alongside Danny, and speak very fondly of him as a person, and are still in touch with him. He hasn’t lost his Mancunian roots.
Born a Red, United was always the dream for Danny, and he has spoken of how he felt when he first scored in front of the Stretford End. As a Red, there’s no better feeling than scoring at Old Trafford, and seeing fans sat in the seat you were once in, cheering for you.
Danny is living proof that United’s Youth Academy is one of the best in the country, if not the world; it has grown him, made him stronger and prepared him to play in every tournament possible. Although his positioning as a striker is clearly natural instinct, playing and being coached by players such as Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes has given him a priceless gift.
After a great season with United, Danny was given a huge opportunity this summer to step up for England internationally at the European Championships, and while out there he definitely proved his worth. Welbeck looked as though he’d been playing in that England squad for years, he fit in perfectly, and read the players around him immediately, and adapted his game to suit Gerrard’s long balls and Roy Hodgson’s tactics.
When Welbeck scored that winning goal against Sweden, to say my Twitter timeline exploded is an understatement. Hundreds of Reds were praising his skill, but what stood out for me were the opinions of people who have played against Danny, and people that have known Danny for years with him being a local boy, that were getting the most excited. It’s almost unbelievable for fans from South Manchester to see a player doing so well, have so much skill, and be so accepted and praised in the media. The European Championships, for me, showed that Danny has in fact made it…and is about to become something very special for United.
Although England succumbed to the ‘Quarter Final Curse’ once again, I’m sure Danny will be coming home with his head held high, full of confidence for the season ahead with United. This can only be a good thing for us, as Danny has now tasted what it feels like at the top, and how it feels to be the golden boy. I don’t think he’s ready to change that any time soon…
Welbeck is still only 21-years-old, and his talent is very exciting. The fact that he is Mancunian, born and raised makes his success even better. He was raised to live and breathe United…so once a Red, always a Red…eh Danny?