Ex Man United Starlet Luke Chadwick Set To Face Them In Fa Cup Living The Dream With Boyhood Club Cambridge
Ex-Man United starlet Luke Chadwick set to face them in FA Cup living the dream with boyhood club Cambridge
Luke Chadwick won the FA Cup vinyl when his wife painted a giant mural of Cambridge United”s club crest on a wall of their home.
And emulsions will be running high when former Manchester United midfielder Chadwick and his League Two Cambridge side face his former employers from Old Trafford in Friday”s fourth-round clash between potting shed and citadel.
Chadwick, now 34, was awarded a Premier League title winner”s medal in 2001 at Old Trafford, where he made 38 appearances in four seasons.
Consumed with doubts that he belonged in such ex alted company as Roy Keane, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, Chadwick had to wait until last year before fulfilling his dream of playing for his hometown club.
He even rates the joy of scoring against Southport at the Newmarket Road end of Cambridge”s twee R Costings Abbey stadium above scoring for Man United against Leeds.
Each to his own, but the mural of this story is simple: Home is where the art is.
And nobody could gloss over Chadwick”s allegiances after his missus, Hayley, announced them in swathes of amber and black paintwork.
Julian FinneyLocal hero: Chadwick in action during Cambridge”s third round defeat of Luton
He said: "My wife did it for me a few years ago, but she painted over it when we thought of selling the house.
"She did a similar thing when my son was born – a Winnie the Pooh mural on one of the walls in his bedroom. It was incredible, and I said, “You should do a Cambridge one for me”.
"I was only mucking about, but I went away on a pre-season trip and when I came back, there it was. The whole wall was painted yellow and black with the club badge in the middle.
"When people came over to visit us, if they were family or close friends, they could see it. But if we didn”t know them very well, we didn”t want them to think we were a bit strange, like the Alan Partridge room!
"But she did it for a bit of banter. It was a nice thing to do, a romantic touch.
"My wife used to buy me the latest Cambridge shirt as a Christmas present every year – but she doesn”t need to do that any more because I wear them to work.
"When I was about 10, I went over to Bottisham Village College for trials. I had all the gear, the Cambridge tracksuit, and I was desperate to be scouted by them, but they never wanted to sign me. That was a bit of a kick in the mouth.
"I went off to play for Arsenal schoolboys at Under-14 level – Ashley Cole was the one who really made it big from that group. He played left wing back then, but you could see he was quite a good player.
QPR 0-2 Manchester United in pictures:
"And I started playing for Cambridge schools district, which is where I got spotted because you play all over the country.
"The manager said Manchester United”s scout was coming to watch me, and I ended up going up there in the school holidays and playing in the Milk Cup youth tournament in Northern Ireland.
"Everything about the club was so welcoming, and that”s when my mind was made up that I would leave Arsenal and sign for United."
Honest and candid, Chadwick admits that instead of Sir Alex Ferguson ringing up his mum to invite him to sign for United, he wished it had been then-Cambridge boss Gary Johnson.
"If Cambridge had come in for me, there”s every chance I would have been happy to stay at home, but it never happened," he said. "When I moved up to Manchester, I was a bit homesick at first and I was thinking, “Maybe this is not for me.”
"You get to know all the lads, and it was a fantastic time to be part of the empire, but the higher up you go through the ranks, maybe it wasn”t so much fun because of the huge pressure that came with it.
"I was training with some of the best players in the world and I couldn”t believe I belonged in that environment. If United lost a couple of games, it was always a crisis and I was thinking, “Perhaps you”re not enjoying this as much as you should be.”
"I sort of slipped away from the first team, and it was always my plan to get back down south so I could live at home, where I would be happiest.
Captain marvel: Chadwick says Keane would let you know if you weren”t hitting the standards
"Even if I went back now, I”m not sure I would still be desperate to do it. I don”t know if I wanted that life. I don”t want to be famous, I”m pretty sure I wouldn”t have fitted into the Beckham world.
"Although you”re getting paid a lot of money to play football, happiness is more important.
"But I still have a Premier League winner”s medal in a drawer at home. Obviously it wasn”t because of me that we won the title that season, but it was a massive thing to be involved in that squad and don”t get me wrong: I wouldn”t change anything.
"Roy Keane always looked after young players who came through – obviously if you weren”t performing well on the training pitch, he would let you know in no uncertain terms, but that”s just the standards of the club.
"It didn”t matter who you were, he would have a go at me the same as he”d have a go at David Beckham. No-one was bigger than anyone else. What was it like to be bawled out by Keane? Scary."
Not as scary, perhaps, as the prospect of Louis van Gaal”s millionaires being on the wrong end of a huge Cup upset live on the BBC.
Never mind a mural covering one gable, that would be an excuse for Chadwick to paint the town.
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Cambridge United facts
Cambridge manager Richard Money, or ‘Dickie Dosh’ to his mates, played in a European Cup semi-final for Liverpool in 1981, deputising for Alan Kennedy, against Bayern Munich. Kennedy returned to score the winner as they beat Real Madrid in the final.Chris Dunn was in goal for Northampton the night they shocked Liverpool at Anfield in the Carling Cup five years ago, after a pen alty shoot-out. “I didn’t save any pen alties, but I like to think I made the goal look smaller,” he says.During John Beck’s controversial reign as manager from 1990-92, Cambridge came within a whisker of promotion to the top flight. Beck used to throw buckets of water over his players before kick-off; opponents disliked dark arts like half-inflated balls they were allocated for the warm-up, heaps of sugar in the tea urn and an away dugout nearer the pen alty box than the halfway line.Man United’s official allocation of 1,480 tickets for Friday”s match is believed to be their smallest for a senior fixture in this country since fans were segregated.Cambridge have earned £113,000 for reaching the fourth round and they are guaranteed at least £144,000 from the game being shown live on BBC TV.Andy Sinton, the only Cambridge player to graduate from the club’s youth system and go on to play for England, will be at the R Costings Abbey on Friday evening.