Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka had to grow up a lot quicker than his childhood friends. It was either that or pack in his football career, before it had even started.
In an exclusive article for The Players’ Tribune, Aaron Wan-Bissaka opens up on how his Dad saved his career before his £50 million transfer from Crystal Palace to Manchester United.
“You meet people from different areas and you want to do what they’re doing because it looks fun, so I kind of got dragged into that,” Wan-Bissaka wrote.
“Playing with Crystal Palace, I started to not take it serious, stuff like diet. After school, I was there in the chicken and chip shop, fizzy drinks, the whole lot you can name it.
“It was a crowd where they didn’t play football, so their situation wasn’t the same as mine, they didn’t have to go to training after school.
“I kind of got dragged into that. Palace spoke to my Dad and they told me that it could be my last season.
“He spoke to me and I felt his pain, I felt it. Usually he’s lecturing me, but this one he was actually speaking to me and I’ve never seen him speak like that, so that’s when I knew it was serious.
“I thought this was my only chance, I can’t ruin it.”
Since joining the club in 2019, the 23-year-old has been a mainstay at right-back and at the time it felt like a long time since we had a proper option there.
That is not to disrespect Antonio Valencia, who deserves credit for adapting his style at the latter stages of his career and continuing to be an outstanding asset to Manchester United, but that doesn’t change the fact we didn’t have a mainstay right-back from the day Gary Neville retired.
Some United fans will argue that we need a better right-back.
Personally, he is who I want in my back four, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs a better attacking alternative too, especially in games against teams that are going to sit back and frustrate United next season.
It’s fantastic to think Wan-Bissaka at 16-years-old made a call to mature and put his profession first. He has always come across extremely humble when interviewed and it’s baffling that he has yet to make his England debut.