El Fitouri's remarkable tale from City to United
Sadiq El Fitouri is hoping to be involved when United's U21s take on his former club Manchester City in tonight's derby at Leigh Sports Village. After leaving the Blues, the versatile Libyan defender rebuilt his career by impressing with Salford City while his route to Old Trafford is a tale of perseverance and he is aiming to earn a 2nd successive title winner's medal with Warren Joyce's squad. After recovering from an injury and making the bench for the defeat against Everton earlier in this month, the 21-year-old hopes to push on again. He said: "I got a knock after the internationals with Libya and it was disappointed to miss out on some games. Now that I am fit, I hope to start every week and see how it goes from there. United vs City is a big game but it is particularly special for me as I played there before, so I am looking forward to it. Winning the league is what we're aiming for and hopefully we'll do it again this year. We train hard every day with Warren Joyce. His training is very intense but it works. We do a lot without the ball, closing down, focusing on our positioning and working together."
The Libya international has an interesting story to tell when it comes to how he ended up at United, just when his footballing career was at a crossroads.
El Fitouri revealed: "I was out of action for a year and a half after I left City because I was injured and couldn't get a club. It was the worst time to get injured, straight after being released.
"I was injured for four months but after that I just carried on training in the gym. I had to do it all myself but I sort of knew what to do from the time I had an injury at City.
"After 18 months without playing, I was starting to lose hope. But in December , I phoned up Salford City and asked if I could train with them. They said 'Yes, come down' and I trained there for one month and played one game.
"Phil Neville was impressed and Paul Scholes too so they pulled me over to one side and said I could go to training at United the next day. Everyone knows who Neville and Scholes are and for them to have belief in me was really good.
"My trial at United lasted for a week and a half. During the first week, I remember I played an in-house game against Leicester. Warren was impressed and, a few days later, he said: 'Well done, I'd like to offer you a contract'. I thought it was all a dream as it happened so quickly."
El Fitouri's signing was announced on ManUtd.com at the end of the January 2015 transfer window and he went on to make four appearances, including a game against City at Old Trafford in May, as United's Under 21s closed out a successful season. So far this term he has played a further four times for the young Reds.
"I had to wait about a month or so before I made my Under-21 debut against Sunderland," El Fitouri recalled. "I'd had a lot of training and knew how the team worked and everything else so I felt ready. The lads welcomed me as if I had been here a long time and they're a good group."