Manchester United has no dearth of heroes and each generation produces a gem; from Billy Meredith more than 100 years ago to Wayne Rooney in the modern era. Each of these great individuals have done their part in shaping this cluba s long and glorious history but no group has left a more indelible mark than the Class of a 92 also known Fergiea s Fledglings. This group of extraordinarily talented individuals defined an era and made a name for themselves in the annals of the game. Together Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt have defined an era and ushered in the most successful period for the club. However seldom anyone will remember the name Terry Cooke for his part in the class of a 92. While the Giggs, Scholes, Nevilles, Beckham and Butt won countless trophies, Terry Cookea s career saw a decline and he is almost forgotten these days.
Born in Birmingham on 5th August 1976, Cooke joined Manchester United as a youth team player and had the makings of a star. Playing on the right side he had scored the winning penalty against Tottenham which won the FA Youth Cup for Manchester United and put the youngsters including David Beckham in the limelight. Posing with fellow youngsters one cannot blame Cooke for feeling he was on the cusp of greatness. He also won the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year for 1994-95. He made his Premier League debut in 1995 against Bolton Wanderers and provided the cross which resulted in Ryan Giggsa goal. By all accounts this was a sensational debut. He then scored his second goal for Manchester United in the League Cup against York City. Cooke was marked for a bright future but injuries soon began to take their toll and he soon began to fade. Also the rise of fellow youngster David Beckham in his favored right midfield position limited his chances of playing.
In 1996, he was loaned out to Sunderland and then to his beloved Birmingham City. In 1997 he again suffered a cruciate ligament injury which further stalled his career growth. For the 1998-99 season he was loaned out to Wrexham where he managed 10 appearances before moving to cross city rivals Manchester City scoring 5 goals in 17 Premier League appearances. While his old youth team mates were on their way to make history by winning Premier League, The FA Cup and then the Champions League in the same season; Terry Cookea s move was made permanent to Manchester City in March 1999 for a fee of A? 1 million. With Manchester City he won promotion from Third Division to Second Division.
While at Manchester City he was again loaned out to a host of clubs including Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday, and Grimsby Town between 1999-02, never quite settling down at one club. After he was released from Manchester City he signed with Grimsby Town for the 2002-03 season. His Grimsby Town stay was marred by an off field feud with the manager Paul Groves, limited playing opportunities, and the return of club legend John Oster who unfortunately also played on the right wing. He left The Mariners after just one season and then joined Sheffield Wednesday 2003-04 on a one year deal. After seeing out his contract Cooke moved to United States.
It was in United States that his nomadic career finally found a place to settle. He joined Colorado Rapids in 2005 and appeared in 106 matches over a period of 4 years. The highlight of his time in United States was the 2008 opening 4-0 victory over LA Galaxy consisting of ex-Manchester United teammate David Beckham. However he was deemed surplus of requirement before the start of 2009-10 season. He was offered trial by Seattle Sounders but was not offered a contract. Now aged 34 he moved to Australian A-League side North Queensland Fury and could only manage 10 games before the team fell into administration. His last professional team was Gabala in the Azerbaijan Football League then managed by Arsenal legend Tony Adams. During his time with the club he suffered a serious knee injury and while recuperating he was released by the club at the end of the season.
He may not have had the glittering career of Beckham or the one club man status of Giggs but his career has taken him all over the world and he did well from the limited opportunities presented to him. Injuries and partially the rise of David Beckham robbed this once promising player of the opportunities he deserved. One wonders if Terry Cooke could have gotten those opportunities would he have reached the heights the rest of the class of a 92 did.