By Alex Predeleux
There has only ever been one main Manchester United hero for Charlie Savage – and it’s not dad, Robbie.
The 17-year-old midfielder has admitted Scott McTominay – and not Savage senior – is the inspiration behind his goal to reach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford first team.
Robbie was a member of United’s ‘Class of 92’ alongside the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt.
He never made a senior appearance for United but went on to have a fine career with Leicester, Birmingham and Derby. Savage also won 39 caps for Wales in midfield.
Now, his son Charlie is making waves with both United and Wales and hopes to follow in the footsteps of Red Devils academy graduate McTominay.
Savage Jr has declared: “I want to be known for being me.”
And he added: “The main inspiration for me is Scott – he’s the best with us. He always comes over to talk to us. He had it difficult in the youth team.
“He didn’t play many matches, but he’s kept going and kept going and proved it’s not always just the standout players who make the first team.
“Sometimes it’s the players who might have had a back seat, but just keep pushing and pushing. “Scott, Marcus Rashford and Brandon Williams all inspire us to improve and move forward.”
Savage has been a regular for United’s Under-18 side this season.
He is highly rated at Old Trafford and Red Devils bosses are understood to think he has a bright future. He scored his first United goal in a 4-1 win over Newcastle.
Savage was born in Leicester in 2003 when his dad was playing for the Foxes.
But he has always wanted to represent Wales like Robbie and last month he made his Under-18 debut in a 2-0 defeat by England.
With his long hair flowing in midfield, Savage’s style is eerily similar to that of his father.
But he is more of a creative threat than his enforcer father and a fine passer of the ball.
He said: “My first game for Wales was two or three years ago and I’ve come through the age groups. I’ve always dreamed of playing for my country. It makes me so proud.
“Last season was difficult because I was injured, but this season I’ve played pretty much all the matches at United and I feel like I’m progressing really well.
“Hopefully I can keep going and progress there as well. My dad doesn’t really say too much to me. “He leaves that to the coaches who know better!
“He’s there if I need him, but he always stresses to me how big a thing it is to play for your country and I should be proud of what I’ve achieved so far. It’s an honour for me to play for Wales.
“My dad wants me to keep pushing to the higher ages.”
Savage was watched against England by his dad who was forced to stand on a bank outside Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff because he was not allowed into the ground because of Covid-19 regulations.
Savage Sr still picked his son up afterwards in the pundit’s top-of-the-range Bentley.
It was quite the contrast to his junior Welsh team-mates driving off in their Volkswagen Polos.
“I don’t have any memories of my dad with Wales – he retired when I was two or three,” Savage said. “But I do remember him at Derby and Blackburn. I enjoyed watching him, but I think we’re different players. He was tenacious, whereas I’m more of a ball player.
“It would be nice to replicate what he did and make it to the Wales first team.
“I think I’m a better finisher than him too! He won’t like me saying that, but if I can have half the career he’s had, then I’ll be very happy.”
Savage faced England in the same Wales side as captain Keelan Williams – the brother of Liverpool and Wales senior defender Neco.
Neco Williams played for Wales Under-18’s just two years ago and the country’s small playing population means they have a good track record of quickly promoting the best youth players.
Savage will hope to follow a similar path in the next few seasons.
Delighted to have signed my first professional contract @ManUtd . I would like to thank all of my friends, family and everyone @neweraglobalsports for all their support. The hard work continues 🚀 #mufc pic.twitter.com/HOKsDE8VwC
— Charlie Savage (@charliesavage84) April 7, 2021
Wales Under-18 boss Rob Edwards said: “I’ve got to say Charlie has a great attitude. He’s very serious about his football and he’s obviously at a very good football club.
“His presence in our camp is so professional. We set the standards of an elite environment and Charlie has come in and been a great character. He played very well against England.
“The players we have wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think they had potential. They are all at different stages. I don’t think anybody in world football can identify who is going to make it at this age.
“We understand the level needed to make a senior Premier League player now is so high and it’s all about opportunity. Hopefully Charlie and our players get that.”