From an early age, Ravel Morrison was scouted by Manchester United and he signed with his boyhood club in 2009. The 15 year-old quickly impressed everyone within the club and especially Red Devils legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The attacking midfielder was touted as United most promising academy player, which at that time had the likes of Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba. Sir Alex even gave him the highest praise, as later revealed by Rio Ferdinand, “I would pay to watch him train let alone play in a match.” Ferdinand was also blown away by the sheer talent of the youngster, he later said, “He was taking the mick out of everyone on the pitch when he was about 16.”
After turning professional on his 17th birthday in February 2010, the attacking midfielder made his senior debut in October of that year, coming on as a substitute in a League Cup victory over Wolves. Around the same period he was an integral part of United’s FA youth Cup winning side. He was the star of the team, but soon his relationship with the club turned sour as Morrison was embroiled in a number of off field problems along with on field attitude issues. In January of 2012, United rejected an offer from Newcastle for the player, but with six months left on his deal, his future already appeared away from Old Trafford.
Ferguson said, “We have offered him terms, which he has refused. His demands are unrealistic. His agent has been working hard to get him another club.”
On deadline day of January 2012, Morrison dropped down a division to join West Ham on a three-and-a-half year contract but made just one first-team appearance as the Hammers earned promotion back to the Premier League. Even before he had made his debut, Morrison had been in trouble again and was fined £7,000 by the FA after making homophobic comments on Twitter.
The following season Sam Allardyce took charge of the Hammers and immediately sent Morrison on loan to Birmingham City in order for him to gain first team experience. However, the youngster fellout with manager Lee Clark due to his attitude in training, almost prompting the manager to cancel the loan.
After returning to Upton Park ahead of the 2013-14 season, Morrison then made the breakthrough into the first team and began to make an impact on the Premier League.
This was to be quite possibly the best spell of Morrison’s career to date as he scored five times in all competitions during the first half of the season, including this stunning solo effort against Tottenham in a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane.
Morrison, however, fell out of favour in the second half of the campaign and eventually returned to the Championship to join QPR on loan in February 2014. Again he impressed, scoring six times and helping QPR win promotion via the play-offs.
With six months remaining of his deal at West Ham, Morrison signed a pre-contract agreement with Lazio in January of 2015. A month later the Hammers terminated his contract early to allow the player to move to Rome and start training with his new club. Allardyce later described Morrison as “the biggest waste of talent I ever worked with”.
Despite a promising start to pre-season, including a brace and two assist on debut, the England Under-21 international failed to establish himself at Lazio amid renewed criticisms of his attitude. Lazio boss Stefano Pioli said, “Morrison has to work harder. He still doesn’t speak a word of Italian and this has slowed his development and his integration in the squad.” After eight appearances in all competitions, he did indeed return to QPR, on loan, but yet again made just one start as the London outfit turned down the chance to make the transfer permanent.
On 31 August 2017, Morrison joined Mexican Atlas on loan until the end of the season. He appeared for the Liga MX side and scored three goals. He described the spell in a recent interview with The Times as “the time of my life — playing well, great weather, great lifestyle”.
In February 2019, having returned to Lazio in the previous July, Morrison trained with Swedish side Östersund at their pre-season camp in Marbella. On 14 February, it was confirmed that he had signed a six-month contract with the club. He had held talks with Rangers manager Steven Gerrard and there was interest from Championship clubs, but he decided against a move to a side in the middle of their season due to a lack of match fitness.
At 26 years of age, opportunities may still await Ravel Morrison to reveal his true potential. However, there’s an increasingly dejected possibility that the bright future, once promised by his early years, may never happen.