Friday’s Forgotten Footballer: David May

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
david may

May (right) began his career at Blackburn Rovers

Full Name: David May
Date of Birth: 24th June 1970
Position: Defender
Clubs: Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United, Huddersfield Town, Burnley, Bacup Borough.

It may be 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 Nineties.

Even those who hold Manchester United in contempt will remember the image of David 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 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 team.

May spoke to FourFourTwo about the acrimonious transfer and the defender revealed that his last few months at Ewood Park were soured by accusations of being solely money motivated.

“They accused me of being greedy in contract negotiations. I was in a regular in the first team where Alan Shearer was paid £9,000 a week. Me? I was on £500 basic and asked for £4,000.”

He added: “Jack Walker tried to persuade me to stay when he heard United were interested. And David Batty rang me up shouting ‘Scum! Scum! Scum!’ down the phone, but I’d made my mind – you only get one chance to go to Old Trafford.”

During his first season at United, May was deployed in the right back position but faced stiff competition from an emerging and talented full back, 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, one range called ‘Mayson Ridge’.

He emigrated to Dubai for a spell and became Head of Football at a local school. He spoke to Manchester Evening news about the move in 2007.

“It is a chance of a lifetime and I have to take it,” he said. “The most important thing for me is my family and I want to give them the best start in life. Fingers crossed it will go well.”

“I have been out there for the last month and seen what I like so we are going to take a gamble and enjoy it.”

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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