FC Halifax Town: Former Manchester United youngster Hanley is aiming high

Actions from FC Halifax Town v Dag and Red, at the MBI Shay. Raheem Hanley
Actions from FC Halifax Town v Dag and Red, at the MBI Shay. Raheem Hanley

Raheem Hanley began his career at the pinnacle of the football pyramid, and is determined to work his way back up.

The left-back, who joined Town on loan from Northampton last week and made his debut in the 3-1 win at Woking on Saturday.

He was at Manchester United from 10 to 16 and played with Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and occasionally Marcus Rashford in their youth team.

“It was a very good experience,” Hanley recalled. “I feel that gave me the base of my game now.

“The coaching was the top of the top. The attention to detail was crazy.

“That gave me a lot of knowledge of the game technically and tactically.

“I’ve learned other things at the other teams I’ve played for, but at United I learned where to be on the ball, where to pass it, things like that.”

On Pogba, Hanley said: “He was very good. Obviously not as good as he is now, but you could always see the potential in him.”

Hanley has struggled to achieve regular first-team football during his career since leaving Manchester United.

“It was pretty heartbreaking at the time,” he said. “I didn’t really understand.

“United was all I knew and I was from Manchester, so it was like ‘where do I go from here?’

“But I picked myself up after two or three weeks and went on a few trials before I signed for Blackburn.

“I was in and around the first-team when I was 18. I trained with them every day and I was on the bench a couple of times.

“I was in the first-team for a while at Swansea. I was on the bench twice but never got on.”

“I was a bit unlucky in my first year at Northampton with injuries. Then the manager changed and the second manager wasn’t really having me.

“Then Jimmy (Floyd-Hasselbaink) came in and liked me but I got injured again and couldn’t get back in the team.

“I’ve had trouble with my hamstrings because I’m quite an explosive player but hopefully I’m over that now.”

Hanley admits his gradual descent down the leagues has been difficult to deal with at times.

He said: “It’s difficult at the start because you start to think ‘what am I not doing right?’

“But after a bit you just want to play football to the best of my ability, no matter where it is.

“If I can work my way back up by getting games, that’s ultimately the plan.

“From a young age I’ve always played regularly at some level, until I moved to Northampton. That was a big shock to me.

“You think ‘why am I not playing’ but you start to see there are reasons why other people are because of their attributes they bring to the team.

“I kept getting injured so I couldn’t work my way back into the team.

“But the reason you train all week is to play so hopefully coming here means I can get some games and start enjoying it again.

“I want to keep playing, give my all and see where it takes me.

“I’m sure it will take me further than where I’ve played so far.

“But first and foremost I want to help keep Halifax up, play as many games as I can, stay fit, and the rest will take care of itself.”