The FA Youth Cup: Forgotten Winners & Where They Ended Up

Ali Rampling
Midlesbrough v Aston Villa
Midlesbrough v Aston Villa / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The FA Youth Cup is the most prestigious junior cup competition in the UK.

Despite it's youthful innocence, the tournament has been dominated by English football's elite throughout the majority of the competitions history.

Manchester United have won the competition on 10 occasions, most famously with the esteemed class of '92.

Chelsea have been crowned champions nine times, with seven of those victories coming in the last decade. Arsenal and Liverpool complete the top four with seven and four titles apiece.

But every now and then, a plucky underdog will triumph and upset the narrative. Let's take a look at the more unexpected FA Youth Cup winners, and what happened to their once promising crop of talent.

Norwich City (1983, 2013)

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The dominance of English football's traditionally biggest sides in the FA Youth Cup has been particularly overwhelming during the last decade, which makes Norwich City's victory in 2013 all the more remarkable.

The Canaries beat reigning champions Chelsea 4-2 over two legs, sneaking a 1-0 win at Carrow Road thanks to a 90th minute Cameron McGeehan penalty, before playing out a thrilling 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christiansen and Nathan Ake all lined up for Chelsea, but electric performances from twins Josh and Jacob Murphy on either flank helped guide the East Anglian youngsters to a memorable underdog triumph.

The Canaries also won the competition 30 years earlier thanks to a 6-5 aggregate win over Everton in the final.

Where Are They Now?

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From Norwich's 2013 side, striker Carlton Morris is the only player still at the club. The 24-year-old has spent the 2019/20 season on loan at Rotherham and MK Dons.

The Murphy twins both commanded substantial transfer fees when they departed the club - Jacob to Newcastle for £10m in 2017, and Josh to Cardiff for £11m the following summer. The former has spent the season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday.

Defender Harry Toffolo is also playing in the Championship with Huddersfield, while a selection of other squad members have carved out a career further down the football pyramid.

From the '83 side, the majority of players enjoyed stellar careers in the lower echelons of the football league. Jeremy Goss was capped nine times for Wales, while Louie Donowa was part of the Norwich side that won the League Cup in 1985.

Ipswich Town (1973, 1975, 2005)

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The blue half of East Anglia have also enjoyed their fair share of success in the FA Youth Cup, winning the competition on three occasions.

Their most recent triumph came in 2005, when they beat a Southampton side containing no fewer than six future Premier League stars. The definition of star differs considerably from player to player.

Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana, Nathan Dyer, David McGoldrick and Leon Best were all in the Saints squad, but a strike from 15-year-old Ed Upson late in extra time saw the Tractor Boys to a 1-0 second leg win, and 3-2 victory on aggregate.

Ipswich also won the competition twice in the space of three years in the 1970s, beating West Ham in 1975 and Bristol City in 1973.

Where Are They Now?

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From Ipswich's 2005 squad, only Owen Garvan - who missed the second leg of the final through illness - would go on to play in the Premier League. The Irish midfielder played a handful of top flight games for Crystal Palace, having spent five years in the Ipswich first team.

Midfielders Ed Upson and Liam Trotter both played in the Championship with Millwall, while forward Danny Haynes earned cult hero status at Ipswich due to his habit of scoring against rivals Norwich. However, he is currently in the eighth tier with Cray Wanderers.

It is from Ipswich's 1975 FA Youth Cup winning side where the greatest success story can be found in the shape of John Wark. The 1981 PFA Player of the Year won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup with the Tractor Boys, before enjoying four years with Liverpool and then returning to Ipswich on another two occasions.

Middlesbrough (2004)

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In the last 17 years, Middlesbrough are the only side from outside the top six not located in East Anglia to have won the FA Youth Cup. What a piece of trivia, you can have that for free, not even behind a paywall or anything.

Having been beaten finalists the season before, Boro recorded a 4-0 victory against Aston Villa over two legs to win the competition for the first and currently only time in the club's history.

Gabriel Agbonlahor, Gary Cahill and Craig Gardner all featured for Aston Villa, but they were comfortably beaten by a Middlesbrough side consisting exclusively of home grown talent.

Where Are They Now?

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Anthony McMahon, Matthew Bates, David Wheater and Andrew Taylor would all break into the Middlesbrough first team and make over 100 appearances for the club.

James Morrison was also part of the squad and would enjoy a successful top flight career with West Brom, having signed from Boro for £1.5m in 2007.

Morrison was one of two players from Middlesborough's 2007 side to represent his country at full international level, the other being Adam Johnson.

Millwall (1979, 1991)

Millwall enjoyed two Youth Cup runs in the 1990s, winning the competition in 1991 and reaching the final in 1994.

The Lions beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 on aggregate thanks to a thumping 3-0 win in the home leg.

Millwall won the competition 12 years earlier with a 2-0 win over Manchester City, meaning they have actually won the FA Youth Cup just as many times as the Citizens.

Where Are They Now?

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From the '91 side, Andy Roberts forged out arguably the most successful career, making over 200 appearances for Millwall across two spells. The defender was part of the side that reached the 2004 FA Cup final.

No one from the rest of the squad played above League One level, with very few making much of a break through into the Millwall senior side.

The majority of players from the victorious 1979 side enjoyed solid careers in the football league. Many of the squad broke into the Millwall first team, with Kevin O'Callaghan arguably the biggest success story. The winger won the UEFA Cup with Ipswich, and was capped 21 times by the Republic of Ireland.

Coventry City (1987)

Coventry have been beaten FA Youth Cup finalists on four occasions (1968, 1970, 1999 and 2000), but got their hands on the trophy in 1987.

The Sky Blues beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 on aggregate thanks to an extra time winner in the home leg from Steve Livingstone.

Sky Sports' Scott Minto lined up for Charlton, in the Addicks' only ever appearance in the FA Youth Cup final.

Where Are They Now?

Apart from Tony Dobson and Steve Livingstone, the Coventry side that won the FA Youth Cup only cobbled together a handful of senior appearances for the Sky Blues between them.

About half of the squad forged out careers further down the football pyramid, while defender Dobson made over 50 first team appearances for Coventry before moving to Blackburn, where he joined up with Livingstone once more.