Ashley Simon Young (born 9 July 1985) is an English professional footballer who plays as a winger for Premier League club Manchester United and the England national team.
Born and raised in Hertfordshire, Young started his career at Watford, making his first senior appearances in 2003 under the management of Ray Lewington. He became a first-team regular in 2004–05, and was one of Watford's key players in their promotion winning 2005–06 season. Young continued to play well for Watford in the Premier League, and in January 2007 he transferred to Aston Villa for an £8 million fee, rising to £9.65 million with add-ons. He established himself in the first team at Villa Park, and has since earned 30 caps for England, scoring 7 goals. On 23 June 2011, Young signed for Manchester United for an undisclosed fee.
Despite having been turned away by Watford's Academy after an unsuccessful spell, Young endeavoured to improve himself as a player and was eventually offered a professional deal by the club. The 18-year-old was handed his first-team debut under Ray Lewington in September 2003, scoring as a substitute against Millwall. He achieved five substitute appearances that season, scoring three goals, and made his first start for the club in the League Cup. Young came to prominence in the 2004–05 season, playing a part in 34 of Watford's league matches as they struggled to survive in the Championship. Although he failed to find the net, his performance during this season earned him the club's Young Player of the Season award.
Under Aidy Boothroyd in the 2005–06 season, Young was given a new lease of life as a striker and right winger. Young started 41 League matches, finding the net 15 times, including a playoff semi-final goal against Crystal Palace, as Watford qualified for the play-offs and eventually beat Leeds United 3–0 to gain promotion to the Premier League. During that season, Young scored a number of spectacular goals, including free-kicks against Plymouth and Leeds, a shot into the top corner from 30 yards out against Coventry City, and a curling shot against Queens Park Rangers. It was during this season, though, that Young was sent off for the first time in his career, in the local derby away at Luton Town.
Young began Watford's 2006–07 Premier League season well, scoring three times in the league, including a last minute strike in a 3–3 draw with Fulham (he had also scored Watford's second goal in the match), and a goal against Middlesbrough, in Watford's first win of the season in October. He also scored a free-kick in the League Cup. In the January 2007 transfer window, three clubs made £5 million offers for the Under-21 International. Watford rejected these approaches, as well as (as of 12 January 2007) an offer of £7 million, again from an unnamed club
An improved offer of nearly £10 million from West Ham United was accepted. However, Young rejected the move, opting to wait for offers from clubs for whom relegation was not an issue.
On 18 January 2007, Aston Villa had an £8 million offer (rising to £9.75 million with add-ons), accepted—the club's record transfer fee. This allowed manager Martin O'Neill and the Aston Villa board to discuss personal terms with the player. Two days later O'Neill confirmed the player had agreed to join the club. Young underwent a medical on 21 January and the signing was confirmed on 23 January 2007. On 31 January, he scored on his debut for Villa at St James' Park against Newcastle United, but Villa went on to lose 3–1. Young started the 2007–08 season well, receiving several Man of the Match awards, culminating in a call-up to the England squad.
In the 2007–08 Premier League season, Young finished second to Cesc Fàbregas in assists with 17. Young was included in the Premier League Team of the Year, and apart from Portsmouth's David James, he was the only other player who did not come from any of the 'Big Four' (Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United) to make it into the best XI of the season. He is known for his pace, set pieces and ability to pass and shoot. He is also well known for cutting back onto his right foot and 'whipping' the ball into the penalty area.
On 20 April 2008, Young scored two goals and assisted two goals for Aston Villa against Birmingham City at Villa Park and Villa went on to win the game 5–1. He also scored the winner against Danish side Odense Boldklub in Villa's home leg of the UEFA Intertoto Cup third round. On 10 October 2008, Young won the Premier League Player of the Month award. This was due to his performances in the 2008–09 Premier League season. Having also won the award in April 2008, Young joins the list of players who have won the award more than once including Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. On 7 December 2008, in the 3–2 win over Everton, Young scored two goals, one being an injury time winner after Everton's Joleon Lescott had equalised seconds earlier putting his tally for the season up to five. Manager Martin O'Neill later described the player as being 'world-class' in the post-match press conference. Ashley Young signed a new four-year contract until 2012 on 4 November 2008. On 10 January 2009, Young was again awarded the Premier League Player of the Month award for December, along with O'Neill, who won the Manager of the Month award. He became the first ever player to win three Premier League Player of the Month awards in the same year. During a match against Sunderland on 18 January 2009, Young was sent off for a two-footed foul on Sunderland's Dean Whitehead.
On 24 August 2009, Young scored a penalty as Aston Villa won 3–1 against Liverpool at Anfield. He did, however, miss a penalty three days later in a home tie in the UEFA Europa League against Rapid Wien. Young won two penalties in the first half of the game (one that he missed, the other that was converted by James Milner) as Aston Villa were eliminated from the tournament on the away goals rule.
During the 2010–11 season, Young became vice-captain of the club and played in a new free role behind the striker, allowing him to move from wing to wing and through the centre. Young scored his first goal of the 2010–11 season with a direct free-kick in the Premier League game at home to Bolton Wanderers on 18 September 2010. He ended the season with nine goals and fourteen assists in 39 appearances for Villa in all competitions. With one year left to run on his current contract, Young stated that he would not make a decision on his future until the end of the season. On 20 June 2011, new Villa manager Alex McLeish admitted that he was resigned to losing Young, stating, "It's not confirmed yet but it does seem likely."
On 23 June 2011, Young completed a move to Manchester United for an undisclosed fee, reportedly between £15 million and £20 million, having passed a medical the day before, beating Liverpool to the signing. He signed a five-year deal with the club for an undisclosed fee. He was handed the #18 shirt previously worn by Paul Scholes. He made his debut for United in a 3–2 derby win over Manchester City in the 2011 FA Community Shield, playing the full 90 minutes and making an assist.
He made his league debut for United against West Bromwich Albion on 14 August 2011, setting up the first goal for Wayne Rooney and forcing an own goal after a run down the left flank and cross, in a 2–1 away win. He was named man of the match. He scored his first two goals for United on 28 August in an 8–2 victory against Arsenal at Old Trafford. Both occurring after cutting inside from the left flank and bending two right foot shots into the far corner. Young made his debut in the UEFA Champions League on 27 September 2011, scoring a headed goal in the 90th minute to help Manchester United to a 3–3 draw against Basel. After a long term injury, Ashley returned on the field at Stamford Bridge in a 3–3 Premier League draw against Chelsea on 5 February 2012. On 16 February, he scored a goal for the lead in a Europa League 2–0 away win against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena. On 4 March 2012, Young scored two goals and made an assist against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in a 3–1 Premier League win. On 2 April, he scored in a 2–0 win against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
On 4 March 2015, Young scored his first goal of the 2014–15 season in a 1–0 victory over Newcastle United. On 12 April, he was named Man of the Match after he scored the equalising goal and provided two assists in a 4–2 home win over Manchester City.
On 7 August 2015, Young signed a new three-year contract with Manchester United, keeping him at the club until June 2018, with the option to extend a further year.
Ashley Young has been accused of diving by the press and has been spoken to by former managers Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes about diving to gain an unfair advantage.
As a result of his form for Watford during the 2005–06 season, in February 2006 Young earned a call-up to Peter Taylor's England Under-21 League squad to face an Italian Serie B squad alongside team-mate Chris Eagles. Young started alongside Eagles in the 1–0 win, playing the first half. His continued form into the 2006–07 season earned him a first England under-21 call-up to face Switzerland in September 2006. Young played the last 15 minutes of the match as England scored a late goal to win 3–2, topping their group, and reaching a play-off for a place in the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. At the finals, Young played three times. He took part in the semi-final penalty shoot-out against hosts Netherlands, scoring twice in the shoot-out as England lost 13–12.
On 31 August 2007, Steve McClaren called Young up to the full England squad for the first time to face Russia and Israel in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers. He was again called up for the Euro 2008 qualifiers to face Estonia and Russia. On 16 November 2007 Young finally made his international debut and came on as a half-time substitute for England in a friendly against Austria. He has since appeared in the England friendly against Germany in November 2008, coming on as a second-half substitute. He was also part of the starting XI in Fabio Capello's England squad in the friendly against the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena on 12 August 2009. Young did not make the cut in Capello's 30-man squad for the World Cup in South Africa.
On 12 October 2010, Young made his first start for England in a Euro 2012 qualifying match against Montenegro. He scored his first international goal in a friendly away to Denmark on 9 February 2011 in Copenhagen, which was the winning goal. Young also scored again against Switzerland on 4 June 2011, as he got the equaliser with a volley from the edge of the area, after coming off the bench for Frank Lampard at half-time. On 6 September 2011, Young scored the only goal for England in a Euro 2012 qualifying 1–0 win against Wales. On 7 October 2011, he scored England's first goal away against Montenegro, and set up Darren Bent for the second. England drew the match 2–2 to secure qualification for UEFA Euro 2012. On 29 February 2012, Young scored his fifth international goal in a 2–3 home loss to Netherlands in a friendly match played at Wembley Stadium.
On 26 May 2012, Young scored his sixth, as well as his fourth straight, international goal in a UEFA Euro 2012 warm-up game against Norway. He became the first English footballer since Wayne Rooney to score in four straight international appearances. In his next game for England against Belgium he provided the assist for England's first goal. Young played in all four of England's matches at Euro 2012, culminating with a quarter-final defeat to Italy on penalties; Young was one of two England players to miss his penalty as Italy won 4–2 to reach a semi-final against Germany.
Young was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. He has one older brother and two football-playing younger brothers, Lewis, who made his debut for Watford in 2008, and Kyle, who in April 2009 was training at the Arsenal Academy. Young attended The John Henry Newman School in Stevenage, and played school football alongside Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, who was in the same year.
Young's Jamaican-born father supports Tottenham Hotspur, while Young himself, like his older brother, favoured Arsenal. His hero and "role model on and off the pitch" was Ian Wright.
- As of match played 14 December 2016
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Aston Villa||2006–07||Premier League||13||2||—||—||—||—||13||2|
|Manchester United||2011–12||Premier League||25||6||0||0||0||0||7||2||1||0||33||8|
- As of match played 10 September 2013
- As of match played 10 September 2013. England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Young goal.
|1||9 February 2011||Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark||12||Denmark||2–1||2–1||Friendly|
|2||4 June 2011||Wembley Stadium, London, England||15||Switzerland||2–2||2–2||UEFA Euro 2012 qualification|
|3||6 September 2011||Wembley Stadium, London, England||17||Wales||1–0||1–0||UEFA Euro 2012 qualification|
|4||7 October 2011||Podgorica City Stadium, Podgorica, Montenegro||18||Montenegro||1–0||2–2||UEFA Euro 2012 qualification|
|5||29 February 2012||Wembley Stadium, London, England||19||Netherlands||2–2||2–3||Friendly|
|6||26 May 2012||Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, England||20||Norway||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|7||22 March 2013||San Marino Stadium, Serravalle, England||28||San Marino||4–0||8–0||2014 FIFA World Cup qualification|
- Championship play-offs: 2006
- Premier League: 2012–13
- FA Cup: 2015–16
- FA Community Shield: 2011
- Watford Young Player of the Season: 2004–05
- PFA Team of the Year (Championship): 2005–06
- PFA Team of the Year (Premier League): 2007–08, 2008–09
- PFA Young Player of the Year: 2008–09
- Premier League Player of the Month: April 2008, September 2008, December 2008
- ^ "A. Young". Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 26 May 2016.