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Star's career scandal-free

By Emily Moulton

Jonny Evans has had a relatively controversy-free career in football up until now.

The Newtownabbey teenager, who has been regarded by the sports elite as " something special", has really only made the papers for his undoubted football prowess.

But this week the 19-year-old native of north Belfast, who caught the attention of Manchester United scouts when he was just 15, became embroiled in a rape allegation.

Prior to that, the only scandal the Old Trafford star has been linked to was Northern Ireland's ill-fated trip to Iceland for a Euro 2008 qualifier earlier this year, which ended in an altercation between two senior players on a London-bound flight from Reykjavik.

Evans was later fined by the Irish Football Association for his misbehaviour in a post-match incident which was not directly connected to the infamous 'punch-up on the plane.'

But the offence was only minor and did not mar the young footballer's impressive career to date.

Ever since Evans was drafted to the Old Trafford Academy four years ago, he has impressed coaching staff and former players alike.

He moved his entire family to the Mancheser area as part of his commitment to the sport and heeded the advice of mentors.

Always keen to improve, he quickly caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson who sent the teenager to Manchester United's feeder club Royal Antwerp in Belgium to gain experience when he was just 17.

The move paid off and later that season, Evans received his first cap for Northern Ireland.

His international debut in the sensational 3-2 win against highly-rated Spain at Windsor Park in September 2006 helped to cement the teenager's place in the national side.

Evans has since gone on to win seven senior caps for Northern Ireland.

In January this year, Evans was sent out on loan to Sunderland and quickly helped Roy Keane's side reach the Premiership.

Then three months ago, at the start of this season, Evans - the son of former Irish League player Jackie, who made his name with Crusaders - fulfilled his boyhood dream by making his full first-team debut for Manchester United against Coventry City in the Carling Cup.

The defender, whose younger brother Corry is now at the youth academy at Old Trafford, also picked up the George Best Breakthrough Award at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards ceremony earlier this year for his performances in the Northern Ireland side.

And he has since been described as a new role model at Manchester United's Theatre of Dreams by Development and Education Officer Dave Bushell, who has attributed the player's meteoric rise "as an inspiration to every kid in Manchester United's Youth Academy".

Belfast Telegraph


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