It has been over seven years since David May last set foot on the hallowed turf of Old Trafford but his face will remain enshrined within hearts of Manchester United fans forever for his part in the success of the club during the 90’s. Even those who hold United in contempt will remember the image of May perilously perched on a chair peering over the shoulders of Nicky Butt as he celebrated their Champions League victory and the sealing of an historic treble in 1999.
He will always remain a cult hero in Manchester. It is something of a paradox that the centre back who enjoyed a reasonably successful domestic career should receive so much criticism for his supposed lack of talent.
The United fans would chant “David May, superstar! Got more medals than Alan Shearer” Yet despite his participation in many League title successes and other domestic cup victories, not to mention his continued presence — albeit mainly on the substitute bench — under the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, May made The Times’ list of the 50 Worst Players to play in the Premier League era, published in 2007.
May began his career as a trainee at Blackburn Rovers where he witnessed the transformation of the club as they made it to the top flight from the Second division. He established himself in the first team and was part of the squad that were runners up to Manchester United in the 1993-94 season.
During the summer of 1994, May made the switch to Manchester as he joined the Champions. Ironically however, during his first season with the Red Devils the reigning holders surrendered their title to Kenny Daglish’s Blackburn Rovers.
During his first season at United, May was deployed in the right back position but faced stiff competition from an emerging and talented Gary Neville. In the two following campaigns May did establish himself as something of a regular at centre back and won successive League titles plus an FA Cup winner’s medal against Liverpool at Wembley.
He described the club’s domestic double in 1995 as his personal highlight during his tenure at Old Trafford. His form earned him a late call up to the England squad but he never received a cap and missed out on a place in Terry Venables’ Euro 1996 squad.
May suffered from niggling injuries in the following years and lost his starting spot to Henning Berg. The arrival of Jaap Staam only served to nudge him further down the pecking order. However, he did make a crucial contribution towards the end of the treble season in 1999. He started in the FA Cup final win over Newcastle United and was on the bench for the European final in the Nou Camp.
He briefly went on loan to Huddersfield Town for the 1999-00 campaign but returned to Old Trafford after picking up an injury. He remained there until 2003 but featured sporadically mainly plying his trade in the reserve team.
Before retiring he enjoyed brief spells at Burnley and South African team Bacup Borogh. Since ending his career the 39 year old has teamed up with a restaurateur partner in South Africa and produced his own range of wine called ‘Mayson Ridge’. He then emigrated to Dubai for a spell and became Head of Football at a local school. Like many former United players, May can still be seen on MUTV from time to time acting as a pundit and remains in close contact with the club.
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