I was in Man Utd’s treble-winning squad but my Premier League career lasted one kick – now I run a gardening company

NICK CULKIN switched the football pitch for garden turf but still holds an incredible Premier League record.

The goalkeeper spent seven years on the books of Manchester United from 1995 to 2002.

Nick Culkin played once for Manchester United

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Nick Culkin played once for Manchester UnitedCredit: Rex
He was part of the 1999 Treble-winning team

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He was part of the 1999 Treble-winning teamCredit: AP

Signed for £100,000 from York City, Culkin joined the club’s youth-team and was third choice stopper for the Treble-winning squad of 1999.

He made his debut prior to the iconic campaign in pre-season, coming on as a substitute for Peter Schmeichel against Norwegian side Brann.

With the Danish legend out injured for a huge game at the beginning of the season versus Arsenal, Raimond van der Gouw started between the sticks.

Culkin was on the bench as United won 2-1 at Highbury thanks to two strikes from Roy Keane.

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But with just seconds remaining before the final whistle, Martin Keown clattered into Van der Gouw and his eye quickly swelled up.

Sir Alex Ferguson was left with no choice but to sub Culkin on to see out the win.

He explained to Planet Football: “The physio immediately said ‘sub’ and the manager turned around to me and just said ‘Nick, get yourself ready, you’re going on.’

“I hadn’t warmed up, run up and down the line or anything.

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“I thought ‘this is my chance’.

“I thought there were probably about four minutes to go and I knew they were going to start pumping balls into the box, but I was ready for it and was going to give it my all.

“I wasn’t going to stay on my line, I was going to come out and take the pressure off our team to get us to the three points.”

Culkin’s first job was to take a free-kick and he punted it long up the pitch.

But that turned out to be his first and last moment in a Man Utd shirt as the referee blew the full-time whistle.

Culkin was on the pitch for a matter of seconds and he holds the record for the shortest debut in Premier League history.

That was his United contribution done and dusted as loan spells to Hull, Bristol Rovers and Livingstone followed as he fell down the pecking order after the arrivals Mark Bosnich and Massimo Taibi.

He eventually left Old Trafford permanently to join QPR, but looks back on his time at Man Utd with fondness and he loved being part of the Treble-winning setup.

Culkin said: “The mentality was a winning one, the club was winning at all levels.

“It was a great experience that you can’t take away from me.

“I was involved in the build-up to big games, the team talks, the tactics. It was just a fantastic place to be at that time.

“Watching Pete in training doing a shooting session, I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I used to stand there behind the goal, just watching in awe, because he just made it look so easy and it was just great to watch.

“In the end, I wasn’t good enough for Man Utd and that was obvious, otherwise I would have played. There’s no shame in that.”

Culkin was at QPR for three season but his career was cut after he sustained a devastating knee injury.

He retired aged 26 and now works as a gardener in Manchester.

The 45-year-old says that he did not have financial security so needed to get a “real job” with a family to provide for.

He as no career regrets but is sad he had to hang up his gloves early, believing he could’ve had a lengthy career in the Championship or League One.

Culkin came out of retirement to sign for FC United of Manchester in 2014 as he became the first player to feature for both the Red Devils and the club set up by fans in protest.

Nick Culkin retired after a serious knee injury

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Nick Culkin retired after a serious knee injuryCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

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