Neil Young was the epitome of a footballer in the 1960’s. A local lad, born in Fallowfield in February 1944, Young not only achieved the schoolboy dream of playing for you club, but also scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final at Wembley and achieved legendary status during his eleven years with the club.
Young signed for City in May1959 after being spotted by scout Harry Godwin, who would watch the winger play regularly for the Manchester Boys Under 15’s. Prior to him signing at Maine Road, Young was offered a deal by United’s Johnny Aston, but being a blue, Young turned them down to play for his boyhood club.
He began his City career as a groundstaff boy, cleaning boots and sweeping the terraces before progressing to the City ‘A’ team. But in November 1961, Young made his first team debut at Villa park and had to borrow a pair of boots from City’s legendary keeper Bert Trautmann for the game. The blues lost that game 2-1 but Young managed to hold onto the first team place and remained in it until the end of the season. He scored his first goal for the club in December 1961 in a 3-0 home win over Ipswich Town and went on to finish the season with 11 goals.
The following year, Young made 31 appearances for the blues, scoring five times but the club were relegated and manager Les McDowall resigned. Two years later, manager George Poyser left the blues and in walked Joe Mercer to turn the fortunes of the club around and turn Young into a blue hero.
In City’s 1965/66 promotion season, Young grabbed a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Leyton Orient at Maine Road on his way to scoring 18 goals for the season. The winger was making a name for himself and contributed to 20 of the goals scored in City’s championship wining year, including two on the final day of the season at Newcastle.
But the goal he is probably best remembered for was at Wembley the following year. Peter Shilton and Leicester City stood in City’ way of winning the FA Cup. Mike Summerbee beat Leicester’s Alan Woolett and rolled the ball perfectly into the path of Young, who smashed it past Shilton to score the only goal of the game and ensure the cup came to Manchester.
The following season, young starred again in another City triumph, this time in Europe. The semi-final of the European Cup winners Cup saw City 1-0 from the first leg, but Young scored two as the blues crushed the Germans 5-1 to reach the final, where Young again got on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win over Polish side Gornik Zabrze.
Young brought the curtain down on his Maine Road career at the end of the 1971/72 season and moved to Preston, where he made 68 appearances scoring 18 times. After two years, he moved to Rochdale, playing 13 times and scoring 4 goals. In 11 years with the blues, Young had made 416 appearances and scored 108 goals. Of the appearance, 413 were starts and the winger only made the substitute appearances.
A legend who was one of the best players ever to grace the City blue, Young is a City hero will be remembered for many years to come.
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