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Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Daniel James (file pic).
# Looking Back
'I nearly gave up football when I was 12' - Man United star James
The winger has impressed with three goals in five Premier League games for the Red Devils.

MANCHESTER UNITED WINGER Daniel James almost walked away from football as a child because he “wasn’t enjoying it”.

The 21-year-old has had a great start to life at Old Trafford since joining from Swansea City in the close-season.

The winger opened his United account on his Premier League debut, coming off the bench to score the final goal as his side beat Chelsea 4-0 in the opening game of the season.

He has started all four games since then, finding the net against Crystal Palace and Southampton.

James may be a rising star for Wales and United, but he almost turned his back on it all during his days in the Hull City youth academy.

“At the start, when I got to nearly 12 years old, I actually nearly gave up football,” he told Inside United. “I wasn’t enjoying it. 

I was telling my mum and dad: ‘I’d rather be playing other football’. Or I was missing [going] out with my mates. I was training most nights and was missing out. I was coming back from school and wanting to go out with my mates, but I had to go training.

“I had a serious meeting with the coaches at Hull [for them] to say: ‘No, we think you’ve got the ability and we want you to stay on here’. Thankfully, from there, I did stay on.”

At the age of 14, James was called up to the Wales youth team and was moved from the striker position to the wing — a decision that changed his career.

“There were times when I wasn’t enjoying it, but I think as a person I developed a lot, especially when I went to play my first game for Wales when I was 14,” he said.

The first games were against Belgium and Switzerland, and that changed me as well because I used to play striker at Hull, and when I went away with Wales, I played as a winger.

“I think that’s why I’ve come to be a winger now. Otherwise, I think I’d play in a different position.”

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Reflecting on the sacrifice he had to make to reach the English top-flight, James believes it is even more difficult for players progressing through youth academies now.

“Obviously, I did enjoy my football — it was just that I was missing out with friends,” he added. “But they are the sacrifices that sometimes you have to make as a footballer, to make it. I know nowadays there’s a lot more.

“I was training three times a week, where most boys now are training every day. That’s the sacrifice you’ve got to make. It is difficult, especially for parents as well.”

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