PNE ace aims to leave Man Utd red-faced
New Preston North End midfielder Ben Pearson is out to prove that old club Manchester United were wrong to let him go.
The 21-year-old midfielder departed United this month after spending more than a decade associated with the club.
Having signed for the Red Devils as a nine-year-old schoolboy, Oldham-born Pearson rose up through the youth ranks at Old Trafford.
Touted as a possible heir to United legend Paul Scholes’ throne as a teenager, the midfielder left having failed to make a single first-team appearance for the Premier League giants.
While he is eternally grateful to United for everything they have done for him during his formative years, Pearson is determined to show that they were more than a little premature in allowing him to leave.
That can only spell good news for North End, who snapped him up on a permanent deal for a fee reportedly in the region of £300,000.
“It was a big wrench to leave United,” said Pearson, who made his PNE debut in the 2-1 victory over Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
“It was difficult just because I had been there for so long.
“I had it in my head, though, that it was time to leave and when I got the offer from Preston, I jumped at it.
“This is the perfect club to sort of stabilise my career and develop it further.
“But it’s no secret that I want to play at the highest level, especially when you are sort of so close to it and you then have to take a step down.
“I am dertermined to get to the top – that’s what I aspire to.”
The comparison with Scholes is something Pearson has a wry smile about and he can understand why some people have likened him to the former England great.
They both hail from the same neck of the woods and share similar traits, both physically and as players on the pitch.
Pearson – who has also had a loan stint at League One outfit Barnsley – revealed Scholes was his boyhood idol and admitted it was a dream come true when the United legend became his youth team manager.
“When I was younger – he was the player I admired,” Pearson said.
“He was the player I wanted to be like and who I watched videos of.
“Growing up at United, I wanted to be as good as him and play for United, like him. I did aspire to be like him .
“It was great when he and Nicky Butt were our managers at one point for the Under-19s.
“They were very approachable and would give you advice.”
A United supporter as a youngster, one of Pearson’s earliest childhood memories was watching the infamous ‘Battle of Old Trafford’ in 2003 when Arsenal defender Martin Keown goaded Ruud van Nistelrooy after the Dutchman had missed a penalty.
“That was my first memory of going to Old Trafford,” Pearson said. “I was sitting right behind the goal when Van Nistelrooy missed the penalty.
“I was a big United fan. I went to most games – all my family are like that.
“It was a dream come true to be signed by them.”