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Ben Thornley

Personal information
Full nameBenjamin Lindsay Thornley
Date of birth21 April 1975(age 41)
Place of birthBury, England
Height5 ft 8 in
Playing positionWinger
Club information
Current clubWitton Albion

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Benjamin Lindsay Thornley (born 21 April 1975) in Bury) is an English footballer who currently plays for Witton Albion in the Northern Premier League.

He is most widely known for his career as a youth and reserve team player at Manchester United, where he played in the left wing position from 1991 to 1998 (becoming a professional in 1992 after helping United win the FA Youth Cup) but was occasionally used as a striker.

Thornley made his debut for United on 26 February 1994 as a substitute in the Premier League match against West Ham United which ended in a 2-2 draw at Boleyn Ground.

A tricky right-footed left winger who was highly regarded by Alex Ferguson and at one point was expected to break into the first-team at Old Trafford. Although he did make nine league appearances for United serious injuries prevented him from making the expected impact at first-team level. The most notable injury came the 1993-94, when he suffered knee ligament damage in a reserve game against Blackburn Rovers due to a reckless tackle by opponent defender Nicky Marker; the injury kept him out of action for over a year. This came just before the FA Cup semi-final against Oldham Athletic, for which Alex Ferguson was reportedly considering selecting Thornley in case Ryan Giggs was not fully fit.

In 1997, Thornley sued Marker and Blackburn Rovers over the tackle, claiming a loss of earnings that resulted from him being kept out of the Manchester United first team because of the injury.

In 1996, he won three caps for England at U-21 level.

After a loan spell at Stockport County, Thornley finally left United on a free transfer in May 1998 and went on to play 127 games for Huddersfield Town, scoring eight goals. From June 1999 until November 2000, he was playing under former Manchester United team-mate Steve Bruce, who was Huddersfield's manager. When Bruce was dismissed, his successor was another former Manchester United player - Lou Macari, who had left United before Thornley joined them.

Thornley's spell at Huddersfield brought mixed fortunes. In his first season they finished 10th in Division One and in his second they finished eighth (being in contention for a playoff place right up to the last game of the season), but in his final campaign they suffered relegation to Division Two.

In August 2001 he signed a two-year deal at Aberdeen. He joined Blackpool on an 18-month contract in November 2002, but was released from his contract at the end of the 2002 03 season.

Thornley started 2003 04 at Bury, but joined Halifax Town on non-contract terms in March 2004. He then joined the non-League scene with Bacup Borough where he was joined by former Manchester United team-mate David May. He spent a season with Bacup Borough before joining Salford City at the beginning of 2006.

Thornley and his younger brother, Rod, currently play for Witton Albion in the Northern Premier League. Rod is also employed by Manchester United as a first team masseur.

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