What Happened To The Manchester United Youngster Who Shared His Premier League Debut With Marcus Rashford
This Sunday will mark five years since Marcus Rashford scored twice on a dream Premier League debut for Manchester United.
A few days earlier, an injury crisis and a problem for Anthony Martial in the warm-up saw the 18-year-old striker included in the starting XI for the first-team.
He capitalised on his opportunity by bagging a brace in a 5-1 Europa League win over FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford.
Rashford was then the match-winner against Arsenal and the rest is history. But another United academy product made his debut in that same game, as James Weir was an 89th minute substitute.
The 20-year-old, captain of the club's reserve side, had spent time in the same digs as Rashford when they were younger.
He was offered a new contract with United at the end of the 2015/16 season but the late cameo against Arsenal was to be his only appearance for United as he left for Hull in the summer.
Mike Phelan was the manager of the Tigers at the time and knew Weir well from his time at United. But when Marco Silva was drafted in as manager, Weir found game-time hard to come by and ended up being loaned to Wigan Athletic.
Another familiar face was his boss as former United reserves manager Warren Joyce was at the helm, although he ended up getting the boot four months after Weir joined.
Injury ultimately hindered his path at Hull and after spending 15 months on the sidelines at one point, he was released in 2019 before an unfruitful spell at Bolton Wanderers followed.
Now, aged 25, having only played 15 times in English football since leaving United, he finds himself plying his trade with Pohronie in the Slovakian top flight, after making the move in March 2020.
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With the club based in a central Slovakian city that has population of around 18,800, it's a vastly different environment but Weir is enjoying his experience.
"That is why I am in Slovakia now," he told BBC Sport.
"It might not be the most glamorous in the world, but I am just happy to play again.
"I had not played for a while and I needed some games and when the opportunity came it was good. I didn't care about where it was or about money.
"It's an eye-opener because in England you get a little spoilt, and most people there won't even watch foreign football.
"The contrast in money and fans' support is obviously very big. But it's still football.
"I've liked some stadiums in Slovakia too, for example Spartak Trnava's stadium, but then we also played the Slovak Cup in some village."
Weir is Pohronie's joint-top goalscorer this season with five and the team are in the thick of a relegation battle, currently lying in ninth in a league of only 12 teams.
He had to travel by ferry from England to the Netherlands and then drive 18 hours to be with the team in the summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although he signed a new deal in June and he's desperate to help the team retain their status, his plan is to move onto bigger and better things in the near future.
"It probably wasn't meant to last as long as it has done," Weir added.
"It's been good to finally have a year of playing and the plan for me is to get into a bigger club.
"I would like to play in, maybe, Hungary or Austria, and then eventually get to Germany or even England."
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