Forgotten story of Mancester United’s ‘lost genius’ Adrian Doherty out next month

Adrian Doherty in action for one of Manchester Uniteds youth sides in the early 90s.

Adrian Doherty in action for one of Manchester Uniteds youth sides in the early 90s.

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A new book which tells the enthralling story of a local footballer hailed as “incredible” by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs is to be published next month.

‘Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty - Football’s Lost Genius’ details the extraordinary life and times of a Strabane boy who played junior football in Derry before heading to Old Trafford.

Written by Oliver Kay, chief football correspondent with ‘The Times’, the book retraces the footsteps of a quiet, shy and unassuming boy described as not your “typical footballer.”

Those who played alongside and watched Doherty in the Manchester United youth team in the early 1990s insist he was as good as Ryan Giggs, possibly even better.

Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who played alongside Doherty at Moorfield F.C. in Derry in the late 1980s, said: “Speak to Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, the Nevilles, they will all tell you he was the best player they ever played with at that level.”

Doherty was also, by all accounts, an eccentric - by football standards, at least. When his colleagues went to Old Trafford to watch the first team on Saturday afternoons, he preferred to take the bus into Manchester to go busking. He also read about theology and French existentialism and wrote songs and poems.

On his 17th birthday, Doherty was offered a five-year contract - unprecedented for a United youngster at that time - and told by Alex Ferguson that he was destined for stardom. But what followed over the next decade is a tale so mysterious, so shocking, so unusual, but, ultimately, so tragic, that you are left wondering how on earth it has been untold for so long.

The stories of Doherty’s contemporaries at United are well know: Giggs ended up as the most decorated player in United’s history; David Beckham became the most recognisable footballer on the planet; the story you don’t know is about Adrian Doherty who, having had the world at his feet, died the day before his 27th birthday following an accident in a canal in Holland.

‘Forever Young’, by Oliver Kay, is due to be published on May 19.