Ravel Morrison letter after Man United debut left Alex Ferguson 'gobsmacked'
'The boy had a good heart, he was just beaten by his background'
As he progressed through Manchester United's youth ranks, Ravel Morrison was widely tipped to become a future star at Old Trafford. A member of the youth team which won the FA Youth Cup in 2011, featuring alongside Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, it seemed a matter of time before Alex Ferguson integrated him into his first team plans.
Despite his obvious talent, Morrison made just three substitute appearances for United's senior side - all in League Cup games. In 2012, Ferguson reluctantly agreed to allow him to leave United for West Ham.
Ferguson on the decision to let Morrison leave Manchester United
Writing in his book, Leading, the former United manager expressed his regret that Morrison's career had not reached the heights many had expected.
"Sadly, there are examples of players who have similar backgrounds to [Ryan] Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo, who, despite enormous 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 kept getting into trouble.
"It was very painful to sell him to West Ham in 2012 because he could have been a fantastic player. But, over a period of years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and we had little option but to cut the cord."
Morrison's letter to Ferguson after making his debut.
Despite allowing him to make the move, Ferguson held Morrison in high regard - as was highlighted by an anecdote shared with Rio Ferdinand in 2021.
Ahead of welcoming Morrison to his Vibe with FIVE show, the former United captain text his old manager to ask his opinion on him.
"I [only] asked for five words from him," Ferdinand said. "He text me back this: "Rio, my first and lasting memory of Ravel as a young lad was that he was always got time and space. He's always available to be on the ball, so unusual for a young lad of his age."
Ferguson's message added how Morrison had presented him with a letter of thanks after being given his first team debut for the club, a gesture he appreciated.
""Give my regards to him please. Another thing about Ravel, which I've always treasured because no other young player who made their debut did it, was after the first game in the first team that he played, the next morning he came to my office and gave me a letter thanking me for giving me his debut."
""I was gobsmacked, Rio. The boy had a good heart, he was just beaten by his background.""
Morrison looked visibly moved by Ferguson's comments.
"It touches you," he said. "If I could go back in time, I would change 90 per cent of my life."
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) February 15, 2021
Morrison's nomadic career
Despite a bright start at West Ham, Morrison later moved to Italy with Lazio. As well as loan spells with a series of Championship clubs, he has played in Mexico, Netherlands and Sweden.
After a brief return to the Premier League with Sheffield United, he has since joined Derby County where, under former teammate Wayne Rooney, he has looked settled.