Jamal Niaz ua92
The transition to life after sport is daunting for any professional athlete but The Class of 92 have more than excelled since retiring from a game they had made such a massive mark on. All members have ventured into management, punditry and of course, have steered Salford City from non–league football to League Two during their ownership. Outside of giving back to a sport that undoubtedly made them icons, the lads highlighted the importance of giving back to the community they were nurtured in, with the announcement of University Academy 92 back in September 2017.
The aim The Neville brothers, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes & Nicky Butt had for the University was to accelerate careers in media, business, sport and psychology whilst giving students the tools, confidence and support to become their best selves. With the backing of Lancaster University and partners, Microsoft and KPMG, this vision quickly became a reality with the former Kellog’s HQ in Trafford being converted into the site’s main campus. Two years on from the initial announcement, the University officially opened late last month and we caught up Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville & Nicky Butt to find out more about their plans for the coming years with this exciting project.
Former Manchester United captain and current Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was ecstatic to see the warm reception from students, partners & guests at the launch event:
“It’s the moment that it all came real tonight, listening to the guest speakers, the people that turned up and how enthused they are about what they’ve done here and what Trafford, Lancaster and all the other partners have done is absolutely amazing. From my point of view and the lads, we’re on the brink of something special with this project and if we can get this away in the first few years and start to grow it in a methodical and organic way, we can really do something that dwarfs our previous achievements in football”
One of the core messages of UA92 is to give young people an opportunity at higher education and a potential career of their dreams they may not otherwise have had and Nicky Butt emphasised the importance of this:
“I think it’s very important for me, Ryan and the other lads because without being given an opportunity at a young age, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We wouldn’t be looking at a journey proudly that we’ve been working on for three years. We recognise that young people need opportunities, they can be the brightest and most talented people in the world but without opportunities they’re not going to get where they need to be”
“That’s the biggest thing for us as a group, giving back to the communities where we’re from and where we live. We expect it to be a place where people will get opportunities they maybe wouldn’t and it’ll be a top-notch university”
Balancing friendships with business is no easy task and the success that the five Manchester United greats achieved on the pitch is clearly being replicated off it as well. Ryan Giggs shed light on the relationships and like mindedness between the group:
“We’ve obviously always got on, we spent so much time as footballers but we’re also friends as well. I think it was a natural progression to work together in different capacities with Salford City and this, it was being involved in something for the next 30-35 years and we hope we will be with UA92 with thousands of students coming through the door. Like anything there’s ups and downs, I’m sure they’ll be ups and downs with UA92 but we all believe in it and we believe it’s going to be a success”
The campus rightfully served as the location for the launch event and Gary Neville was more than impressed with the finished product of the building:
“The building is amazing, there’s such an energy to it. It’s a modern concept, it’s contemporary in every single way and the building sort of matches that. It’s the first time I’ve seen it finished, I haven’t been here in the last month, I wanted to leave it until this moment and I was blown away when I came in earlier. It’s absolutely fantastic”
Students will attend lectures for four hours a day, four days of the week, allowing time for them to have jobs alongside their education. The launch event served as the first time for the Class of 92 to meet the initial group of students to join the university and Neville made it clear of their importance to the process as a whole:
“They’re excited, some of them wouldn’t have gone to university and some of them had opportunities to go to other universities and saw this space, saw the concept and believed in it. I have to say the biggest thank you really goes to our students who have turned up here for their first day, the induction day – 100 students and those 100 people are special in our lives. They’re the people who are the frontrunners, the pioneers for UA92 and they’ll become our biggest advocates”
It’s brilliant to see the Class of 92 give back to the community and create so many opportunities for the aspirational youth in the Manchester area and we at Morson, look forward to see the progress of UA92 in the coming years.