Indy Boonen has lifted the lid on the ice-cold reception he received from Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho during his brief spells with the senior side, prior to his decision to depart from the club’s academy in favour of a move to Belgian outfit KV Oostende.
The 19-year-old forward was labelled as one of the Red Devils’ brightest academy prospects prior to his departure, where he was involved in 32 goals during his time with the under-18s, 19s and 23s.
Boonen turned down a new deal at Old Trafford to return to his native Belgium after three-and-a-half-years with the Premier League outfit, where his finishing ability earned him a number of invites from Mourinho to train with the first team.
Speaking to HLN about his experiences with United’s senior side, Boonen revealed the treatment he received by the manager during his appearances at the club’s Carrington training base.
“The first team, that was a different world. You were hardly looked at, not even by Lukaku. I had a few friends, like Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia, with whom I still have contact,” he said.
“Mourinho? He did not look at me. He shook my hand, like he did with the other players, but he was very distant. He isolated himself with a few players. He never talked to me.”
Considerable competition for places limited Boonen’s chances at the club in both the senior set up and at reserve level, where he made just 12 starts in United’s reserve side who were relegated from Premier League Two last season.
His decision to leave the club arose due to the opportunities he foresaw under KVO boss Gert Verheyen, whom he played for whilst representing Belgium’s Under-19 side, as he added: “At United I learned a lot, but now it’s time to play.”
The 19-year-old, who rose through Genk’s famous academy, signed a three-year contract at the Versluys Arena.