JOHN Curtis started the 1999/2000 season playing in the European Super Cup in Monaco and ended it at Wembley in the Division One play-off final.

The right-back – who had made his league debut for Manchester United in their 7-0 success over Barnsley in the Premiership three years earlier – played for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Champions League winners in a 1-0 loss to a Lazio side containing Pavel Nedved, Alessandro Nesta and Diego Simeone.

In November, he was loaned out to the Reds for whom he played 32 games including the play-off final loss.

Curtis said: “I loved it at Barnsley and I’ll be eternally grateful for my time there. It was my first experience of playing regularly. I developed so much as a player. The Curtis family are originally from Swallownest in South Yorkshire, so it was a good place for me to go.

“It was a springboard to launch my career properly.

“I scored my first senior goal against Man City which, as a loanee from Man United, was great.

“Coming from United, I remember walking into the dressing room at Oakwell and it was just like a breath of fresh air. It was so nice.

“I never realised, until I was out of it, what a pressure-cooker environment Manchester United was. It was so much more relaxed at Barnsley and I could just enjoy my football which I couldn’t always do at United.”

Curtis moved to Blackburn Rovers after the final. He said: “Had Barnsley been promoted, they would have signed me but it was based on that.”

Curtis moved to America in 2013 and works for NCE Soccer (National Center of Excellence), which has various regional training centres for youth players across the country.