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Ex-Man United starlet admits he was sad at Old Trafford, names biggest inspiration



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Former Manchester United academy graduate Ondrej Mastny has explained that he hopes to prove those at Old Trafford wrong.

Ondrej Mastny signed for Manchester United from Czech National Football League side FC Vysocina Jihlava in 2018, joining the club as the new U18s goalkeeper at age 16.

However, his time at Old Trafford was marred by issues. The player failed to make much of an impact in his first season due to injury, and the COVID-19 pandemic halted his good performances during his second campaign.

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During his third, he became a regular player for both the U18s and U21s, playing in the UEFA Youth League, FA Youth Cup and Football League Trophy.

“I was a bit down when I was in England and not playing,” the 22-year-old admitted to the Manchester Evening News. “But I have got a second wind since I came home.” He returned to Jihlava in 2023.

During his time at United, he was involved in first-team sessions, where David de Gea gave the youngster invaluable experience.

“It is always nice to have someone like him to support and encourage you,” Mastny continued. “They (the first-team goalkeepers) tried to help me, and I tried to learn.”

Mastny had to learn as much off the pitch as he did on it, with the youngster moving away from family and friends to a country where he didn’t know the language.

“It was hard because it is a new country, new team, new environment and new people,” he said. “I am not the type of person who the room is for them. I am not the guy who just speaks to everyone, especially when I was 16 and didn’t speak the language.

“I was hoping to play games and show what I can do on the pitch, which, unfortunately, I couldn’t. I was sad after that season, I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve. The next season was better, I played almost everything, but then Covid came.”

He continued: “I think I did well to come through the injuries and setbacks, and the second season was almost a reward for it. Playing Youth Cup, Youth League, PL 2 and all those things. Being with the first team It is a great experience I would never forget.”

Ultimately, with playing time drying up, Mastny opted to return to Vysočina Jihlava, the club he left for United six years ago. He could have remained at Old Trafford, perhaps sought a loan and waited to see if an opportunity opened up. But Mastny was ready for the next chapter.

“It definitely wasn’t easy (to leave United),” he concluded. “I was thinking about it a lot, but I was tired of not playing. I was away from family and friends, and all I wanted to do was play. I wasn’t playing much, and that was my main focus.

“So far, I am playing and doing well and doing what I wanted to do, so I’m satisfied with what is going on.”