Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman reflects on his 10 years with Manchester United
Ben Whiteman spent a decade on Manchester United’s books so their visit to Deepdale is one the Preston North End midfielder has keenly awaited over the summer.
Rochdale-born Whiteman joined United aged six and was in their academy until the age of 16 when they released him.
His ambition of playing professional football had to take a different path, with Sheffield United taking him on and giving him a scholarship.
Whiteman is a Red Devils’ fan which made his time there even more special.
Saturday’s meeting at Deepdale (2pm) will see him focused only on getting 90 minutes in the tank for PNE and trying to get the better of his former club.
It is the last friendly of the Lilywhites’ pre-season programme before the real ball comes out a week later.
Whiteman said: “I was a big United fan growing up, for me it is the biggest club in the world. It’s obviously great that they are coming to Deepdale.
“I’ll be seeing the Preston fans at the ground for the first time since I signed, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I was six when I went to United, I had 10 years there.
“At that age you make a lot of sacrifices without knowing it, so do your family.
“My family were taking me here, there and everywhere, I was training five days a week.
“My mum and dad worked full time and their weekends were spent driving me to where we trained or played.
“The sacrifices my family made for me to get where I am today, were massive.
“I started off training at Littleton Road and The Cliff, then at 11 moved to Carrington.
“Josh Harrop was in my age group, Dean Henderson came in even though he was a little bit younger, Scott McTominay was a year younger.
“They have done outstandingly well to make the grade at United.
“Being at United for 10 years was an unbelievable experience for me. At 16 they made the decision to get rid of me, that’s what it is.”
Whiteman, 25, has been North End’s most consistent performer in pre-season.
He bagged both of their goals in Scotland, a 25-yard shot against St Johnstone and the winner from the penalty spot at Celtic.
Said Whiteman: “I wouldn’t define my game on scoring goals. Pre-season is about getting minutes in the legs, staying injury-free and feeling fresh ready for the start of the season.”
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