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From better than Giggs to ‘drinking and drinking’: how Ben Thornley battled back | David Hytner

At Manchester United Thornley was regarded as superior to Giggs, Scholes and Beckham – then a bad tackle shattered his dreams. He talks regrets, rock bottom and why he is finally at peace

It was a Sunday get-together that featured Manchester United royalty. Sir Matt Busby was there and so was Nobby Stiles, among others. It was the early 1990s; the venue a wine bar in Sale, and the question was for Stiles, then in charge of the B team at Old Trafford. Who was the best up-and-coming youngster at the club?

Stiles did not hesitate. “Ben Thornley,” he replied. What, even including Ryan Giggs? “Ben is the closest I’ve seen to George Best in all my time at the club,” Stiles said. Busby did not bat an eyelid.

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