United's U12s Academy squad recently attended the invitational Izmir Cup, where they competed admirably against elite European opposition.
United Director Selahattin Baki was instrumental in the Club's inclusion in the prestigious tournament, held in his homeland of Turkey and as Coach Matt Morley reports, the players, staff and parents had an experience they will never forget.
The travelling contingent flew from Manchester to Istanbul, with a number of parents part of the trip, showing the Blades really are a family, both at home and abroad. Selahattin was on hand to welcome United to their hotel late in the evening and preparations were already in place for an early start the following morning.
The youngsters were in action three times in the space of just over an hour, a new experience for everyone connected with the Club, especially after such a long journey the day before.
From their opening five matches the United youngsters won once, beating local outfit Izmirspor, having previously drawn with TSV 1860 Munchen and Balcova Yasmamspor. The Blades lost twice, against Altinordu and AEK Athens.
That meant United finished fourth in the group and went into Group Two on goal difference where they would face, amongst others, Fenerbahce and Beskitas.
In the next phase, United lost to Beskitas (3-0), drew with Fenerbahce and Istanbul Basaksehir, and beat Bursaspor, Göztepe SK and Karşıyaka SK.
United finished second, so progressed to play Beskitas, Fenerbahce and Karşıyaka SK again, United lost 2-0 to both Beskitas and Fenerbahce, before finishing in style with a 5-0 win over Karşıyaka SK.
In conclusion United played 14 times over two days, winning five, drawing four and losing five. The overall winners were Spanish giants Athletic Bilbao.
Coach Matt commented: "It was an absolutely fantastic experience for the players to pit their wits against some of the best players from Europe.
"They were physically stronger than our lads, but we gave an excellent account of ourselves and the lads should be extremely proud of what they achieved. The tournament was excellent and the hospitality was outstanding, as were the facilities.
"We enjoyed the challenge and are grateful for the opportunity we had, it was a terrific few days for the lads and they know it was a privilege to be able to represent the Blades in Europe."
Congratulations to Callum Hiddlestone, Finley Potter, Oliver Mcquillan, Oliver Arblaster, Andre Brooks, Jay Magrath, Frankie Maguire, Alex Stacey, Tai Sodje, Tye Reece Bailey Green, Lewis Whitehead, Nathan Wilson, Daniel Browning, Louie Marsh and Josh Peach, who all represented the Blades with distinction both on and off the field.