Bangor City’s new assistant-manager David Mannix was part of the Liverpool FC squad which won arguably the greatest final in Uefa Champions League history.
On May 25, 2005, Mannix was an awe-struck 19-year-old as the Reds recovered from 3-0 down to beat AC Milan on penalties at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul to secure a fifth Champions League/European Cup for the Anfield club.
While midfielder Mannix did not get to play or make the subs’ bench, he was in the matchday squad and joined his team-mates on the pitch in the unforgettable after-match celebrations.
“To be involved, at that age, in what is probably the greatest final of all-time, was an unforgettable experience,” said ardent Liverpool FC fan Mannix.
“To just look at that AC Milan starting XI, and then come back from 3-0 down to win; it was such a major thing to just be involved in that squad.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries in my career, a lot of disappointment, so to be part of that occasion is probably my biggest highlight.”
Mannix was a youth England international at under 15/16, 17 and 20 levels and gained 15 caps in total. He was also part of the England team in the 2002 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship who reached the semi-final in Denmark and finished in third place.
The Winsford-born player is a product of Liverpool FC’s Academy, and played regularly for the reserves, making over 60 appearances. Mannix was one of the youngest ever players to play for Liverpool reserves: he was 15 and was moved to train at Melwood with the first team aged 16.
His progress was restricted by a number of serious injuries, including considerable damage to his right knee in 2001.
Such problems were to bring an early end to his time at Liverpool, where he never made a first-team appearance.
He later had spells at Accrington Stanley and Chester, before retiring as a professional through the PFA, meaning he could claim his pension earlier than usual.
Entering non-league, he joined Vauxhall Motors, then Colwyn Bay, before a memorable stay with Warrington Town.
He was in the Warrington side that reached the FA Cup second round in 2014-15, knocking out League Two Exeter City along the way.
Mannix was also part of Rhyl FC’s Welsh Premier League squad in 2015-16, making 18 appearances for the Lilywhites.
Now he is reunited at Bangor City with newly-appointed first-team manager Stephen Vaughan Jr, a long-time close friend.
“We spent years together at Liverpool through the age levels, as well as with England,” said Mannix, who is a qualified Uefa coach and runs his own football school in Liverpool.
“It’s a really exciting challenge ahead. Bangor City are one of the biggest names in Welsh football. I know they’re not in the Welsh Premier at the moment, but the aim is to get back there and hopefully be pushing to qualify for the Europa League again as that’s where the club belongs.”
Bangor received a relegation reprieve from Tier 2 North recently when they had a 42-point deduction for alleged rule-breaking cut to 21 on appeal by the FAW, which ensured they stayed up on goal difference at the expense of Holywell Town.
Bangor have launched a second appeal against that 21-point deduction “in a bid to clear the club’s name”, to be heard by an Independent Arbitration Panel at a date yet to be decided.
However, it emerged this week that City face a possible new points deduction over fielding an allegedly ineligible player, which if proved could see them relegated.
Not an ideal scenario with which to be joining a new club, but Mannix is taking the positive approach.
“We’re hoping to be able to draw a line under this and look to progress,” he said.
“We know about the new club (Bangor 1876) but Bangor City have had a big fan base in the past and we’re hopeful that if we can bring success on the field we can get that back.”
And as for Liverpool FC, Mannix was delighted to see the club crowned European champions again this summer – their first success in the competition since that amazing night in Istanbul.
“Liverpool haven’t won the Premier League, but Europe is in the club’s DNA,” he said. “To win six European Cups is a fantastic achievement – only AC Milan and Real Madrid have won more.
“Hopefully now we can go on and win the Premier League at last. I’ve got two young sons now, and for them to see Liverpool win the Champions League like their dad did was something very special.”