Steadily climbing the rungs

Morgan Schneiderlin has recently made a GBP24million move to Manchester United, and will hope life at his new club starts better than at his last one.

Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin with team-mate Marouane Fellaini during a training session.   -  REUTERS

From Stockport County away to the FIFA World Cup; Morgan Schneiderlin’s journey to the top has been nothing short of sensational.

The Frenchman has seen himself climb from the third tier of English football to the Champions League in the space of six years as a result of his recent GBP24million move to Manchester United, and will hope life at his new club starts better than at his last one.

Having joined Southampton from Strasbourg for GBP1.2million in 2008, nobody could have predicted what was to come. His first season in English football was a nightmare, as Southampton finished second from bottom of the Championship and were relegated to League One.

The club also entered administration and would subsequently start the 2009/10 season with a 10-point deduction, so it is fair to say it has not been an easy ride to the top for the 25-year-old.

It could have been very different as Schneiderlin almost joined Southampton’s fierce rivals Portsmouth when they were in the Premier League but instead he opted to join Saints to enable him to play regular football.

His experience in League One proved a useful learning curve as he adapted to the demands of English football and it set him up mentally for the challenge of the Premier League.

He is no stranger to working hard in the game and worked his way through the youth ranks at Strasbourg while also doing the same for France, going through every level starting from under-16s in 2004.

Ten years later he found himself in the Maracana playing against Ecuador at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and his international career has mirrored his club career in the way he has fought his way from the doldrums to where he is now.

In 2011 Southampton were promoted to the Championship and it was around this time that people began to take notice of Schneiderlin before he played a pivotal role in Southampton’s second successive promotion as they reached the Premier League in 2012.

Schneiderlin remained a key member of the first team as Saints returned to the EPL and his first goal at that level came against United with a powerful header in a 3-2 defeat.

Not even the departure of manager Nigel Adkins could diminish his role in the team, with new boss Mauricio Pochettino soon becoming an admirer of the midfielder.

Schneiderlin ended the 2012/13 season with five goals and even captained the side on a couple of occasions. His role in the team was highlighted when he was voted player of the year by the fans and his team-mates.

Things continued to get better in the following season as Southampton finished ninth in the EPL and keeping hold of their star players suddenly proved an impossible job. Five key men moved on, including the likes of Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert as well as Pochettino himself, and it was no secret that Schneiderlin had desires to move on to pursue his dream of playing in the Champions League.

There were offers from Arsenal and Tottenham but Southampton stood firm and refused to let him go, believing he could not be replaced as easily as some of his team-mates.

It is to his credit that his performance levels remained just as high during the 2014/15 season and fears of a Saints slump failed to materialise as Ronald Koeman guided the club to seventh in the table and qualification for the Europa League.

Schneiderlin understandably wanted more and after 260 appearances for the club, Southampton allowed him to leave when Manchester United came calling. With qualification for the group stage of the Champions League now secure, Schneiderlin has his chance on the biggest stage in club football.

It has been a long journey from playing in front of 3,000 people on a cold Tuesday night in Hartlepool and few players deserve an opportunity quite as much as Schneiderlin.

The player is currently dating 21-year-old Camille Sold, a marketing and management graduate and former French reality TV star.

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