Football | Where did it all go wrong for Darron Gibson?
"Darron Gibson is a good passer, a good footballer, he’s got really good qualities and I hope he’ll show that, I really do" - David Moyes In April 2010, Darron Gibson was scoring against Bayern Munich in the Champions League for Manchester United. Fast forward eight years, and the Republic of Ireland international faces jail time after being found guilty of drink-driving for the second time in three years. The 30 year old was allegedly over three times over the limit on St. Patrick's Day, when he crashed into several parked cars on his way to Sunderland training. Gibson's Sunderland contract was terminated shortly after the incident, and the Derry native is currently without a club. “It’s true my career has not gone to plan,” he told The Express last year. “I should have played an awful lot more games considering I made my United debut so young." He was tipped for big things at Old Trafford, so how has it come to this? Gibson made his first team debut for United at the age of 18, in a League Cup clash against Barnet in October 2005. The following May, the midfielder won the Jimmy Murphy Award as United's youth player of the year. His form for the Red Devils' reserves earned him an inclusion on that summer's pre-season tour, but he had to wait until 2008 to make his Premier League debut. He spent the 2006/07 season on loan at Royal Antwerp, but was hampered by injuries during his spell in Belgium. Another loan beckoned in the '07/08 season, as Gibson was sent to Wolves where he was managed by Mick McCarthy. The Derryman made 24 appearances for the Championship side, scoring one goal. His Man United debut came in November '08. He came off the bench at Old Trafford as Alex Ferguson's side stuffed Stoke 5-0. A first taste of Champions League action soon followed, as Gibson took part in a 0-0 draw at Villareal. While first team chances were often sporadic, Gibson continued to catch the eye with his long-distance shooting ability and his range of passing. He scored his first senior goal for United in a 3-0 win over Southampton in the FA Cup in January 2009.
Two months later, he started alongside Paul Scholes in midfield in the League Cup final at Wembley. Gibson played 90 minutes before being replaced by Ryan Giggs in extra time, and the Red Devils eventually beat Spurs 4-1 on penalties to seal the trophy. His first league goal followed in the final match of the season against Hull City. The Republic of Ireland international was praised for his eye-catching performance against Spurs in the 2008/09 League Cup, helping United to dump Tottenham out of the competition by scoring both goals in a 2-0 win. "Darron is the one player in our club who can score great goals from outside the box," Sir Alex Ferguson claimed. "He has such tremendous power in his shot." He then started the Champions League second leg quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich, and scored an excellent strike from distance to give United the lead after just three minutes at Old Trafford. United went on to win 3-2 in Manchester, but were eliminated by the German giants on away goals. He also scored in the following season's Champions League semi-final, this time against Schalke. Despite scoring against the Germans, Gibson failed to make the bench for United's 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in the final. That was as good as it got for Gibson at Old Trafford. He was part of the 2010/11 title winning United squad, but made just 12 appearances in the league. After making just one appearance in the first half of the 2011/12 season, Gibson was sold to Everton in January 2012. He left the club having scored 10 goals in 60 appearances.
After the club were relegated, Gibson was filmed drunkenly slating his teammates in a hotel bar.
“There are too many people at the club who don’t give a f*#k,” he ranted. “I’m off my face in here.” He had made 15 appearances in the Championship this season before his arrest for drink-driving, and now his football future looks entirely uncertain. Injuries - as well as indiscipline - have certainly played their part. Despite making his debut at 18, Gibson has amassed just 94 Premier League appearances. Those matches have yielded five goals and eight assists. “Darron Gibson was an example of one who brings you to that crossroads,” Alex Ferguson later wrote in his autobiography. It seems that is Gibson who finds himself at the crossroads now.