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'I was at rock bottom' - Manchester United FA Youth Cup winner wants to help others avoid what he went through

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It was a disparate group of former Manchester United youngsters who gathered at Carrington last week for the first unofficial meeting of an alumni scheme that academy bosses hope will offer up a vital support network for players.

There were teenagers released by United within the last 18 months, a winger once dubbed the next Ryan Giggs who is now rediscovering his love for the game in non-league, an EFL professional without a club thanks to a badly-timed injury and a 30-year-old who left the game for five years and fell into a severe depression.

But the benefits of the project were there in bringing together Tom Thorpe and Callum Gribbin. Thorpe was the veteran of the group at 30, while Gribbin was the star of the academy whose release four years ago was a sign of a player who had lost his way. ALSO READ: Inside the United training camp for former players as club starts alumni project ALSO READ: 'It got me down' - The United title-winner labelled next Scholes but criticised by fans Six years separate them and their paths wouldn't usually cross, but for their association with United and their presence at the club last week.

They share a common thread this year, however. In March, just as the joy was returning to his football, Gribbin suffered a knee injury that badly affected his anterior cruciate ligament, as well as his medial and posterior ligaments.

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