‘It’s real football now’ – Manchester United starlet lifts lid on loan success and advice from Michael Carrick
“It’s real football now.
“It’s not the youth, nothing else, that’s okay.
“The tempo here is also very fast.
“You have to be on the ball, focused for 90 minutes, otherwise you will be punished.”
It would be very understandable if Dylan Levitt felt unconfident after his loan spell experiences last season.
Highly rated since joining the United Youth Academy aged just eight, Levitt eventually moved away from the academy’s comfort bubble, spending time at Charlton Athletic and NK Istra 1961 as he was looking to take his first steps into senior football.
The Bodelwyddan-born midfielder would make just five appearances at Charlton and nine more in Croatia as he had a revealing look at senior football and what it really takes to succeed in the professional game.
Since childhood, it is the dream.
READ MORE: Dundee United boss hints at Dylan Levitt’s future after Manchester United loan
Like many children in North East Wales, Levitt grew up an avid Manchester United supporter, idolizing Paul Scholes as well as Andreas Iniesta as he took his first steps as a central midfielder.
During his own fledgling career, he had the chance to learn from some of the best. At club level, these are Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, while others have been Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey on the international stage.
It was after those two loans that he worked closely with Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, two other players he idolized while growing up in Flint, in hopes of sparking his own football career.
“I hope this can continue,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “I also learned a lot from them. Fletcher and Carrick were a big part of my development, especially the last pre-season as well. They were pushing me. I was always doing extras with them. It’s always good to know they are there.
“I will never forget when they won the Champions League in 2008 against Chelsea. It is so etched in my memory. What they have also done in their career. For them trying to give me something to build on is a huge bonus because well. They were still training together, and you could see they always got it.
It’s been two years since the Welsh youngster took his first loan spell at Charlton, intending to join them for the full season. However, things didn’t exactly go as planned.
The following January, Levitt was recalled early by United, having made just five first-team appearances for the League One club. He spent another month in Manchester weighing his options before an interesting opportunity presented itself.
“I haven’t really played a lot at Charlton but you always learn little things. You learn on and off the pitch to move on to your next loan. It all adds up and you know how it’s going to be because you have done everything before.”
With the English transfer window closed, an offer from Croatian side Istra 1961 arrived, giving the youngster a chance to regain his confidence as they battled to avoid relegation from the top flight.
“I liked it! It was only for four months, but I liked it. It was obviously also a life experience. It was good to have the experience of living away from my family, where they couldn’t even travel because of the Covid Situation. I think I learned a lot there, living alone in a foreign country so young. It paid off to get into the Euro 2020 camp.”
Levitt’s reward was a place in the Wales side that reached the knockout stages of the European Championship, reaching the pitch as Rob Page’s side were beaten by eventual winners Italy. in their last group game.
After impressing at international level, he played for United in their first two pre-season games last summer before a loan offer from Dundee United arrived. It turned out to be a third chance for the player, lovingly known by the fans of his new club. as “the silky Welshman”.
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“I’m really enjoying him at the moment. It’s benefiting me as a player and as an individual. Every loan has gotten better over time. I think this one has been the best by far. He’s always good to know you are doing well. I learned a lot at Charlton and in Croatia as well, and it helped me here too. They prepared me for what I came to Dundee United for.
Locals are quick to point out that Dundee is Scotland’s sunniest city, which is fitting as Levitt has brightened up Tannadice with his own displays this season. His experience in Croatia has helped him settle in well in the City of Discovery, which again is quite auspicious as he finds himself in the best form of his professional career.
If you happen to be in Tannadice on a match day, your ears might even pick up a North Walian twang in one of the supporter bars, with Levitt often supported by family members who make the trip from 315 miles to watch him play.
“They’ve played quite a few games now and every time they try to show up they will. It gave me a boost to know that someone is still there. The club helped me too to settle in so easily. I could tell as soon as I walked in that it was a real family club.”
Credit to Levitt for settling into his new environment so well. Members of the Scottish club were keen to highlight how popular he has been since joining and how he has gone above and beyond to get to grips with his new surroundings.
The Welshman resides in the quiet seaside town of Broadferry with neighbors who also support Dundee United. Often on a non-game day, he will socialize with his community, regularly joining them to watch other games on TV.
Fans also showed their appreciation for the new signing by adapting Belinda Carlisle’s hit “Heaven is a place on earth” to a chant declaring “Dylan Levitt is the best on Earth”. It’s safe to say he approves.
“I’m a big fan of it! Sometimes I’m in the corners and you hear the chants when you go and get the ball. It gives you a little buzz, a boost to animate the team and do it for the fans . I love this song.”
Hearing his name chanted by a devoted following gave Levitt a new appreciation for the game, and after so many years as a promising youngster, he is now experiencing what it is really like to be a top footballer.
“I think for the last six weeks or so we’ve had two games a week, one every three or four days, and it was good to get into a rhythm. It’s real football now. This n It’s not youth, nothing else, it’s good. The tempo here is also very fast, so you have to be on the ball, concentrate for 90 minutes, otherwise you will be punished. also helps to evolve as a player.
“I think on all levels. I’ve just become more confident. I’m here and I approach every game with confidence, hoping to play ninety minutes and really win the game too. I said at the start of the I wanted to score goals I don’t want to be in midfield without getting numbers I also want to be up there to score I think that gave me a boost I set myself goals before the season and hopefully at the end I can look back and say I achieved them.”
Speaking of goals, last month Levitt went viral when he pulled off an incredible effort against Motherwell, gently hitting a bouncing ball into the back of the net as he ran over it from the edge of the box.
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“Definitely the best moment of my club career so far. I was waiting for this moment. I also scored in the cup but it wasn’t as good as Motherwell’s. We really needed to win this game too, so that was a big bonus.”
Levitt is still in group chat with his former U18 teammates at United including Angel Gomes, James Garner and Tahith Chong, a testament to the strong bonds forged at youth level. Last month he faced another upcoming United prospect when Dundee United held Rangers to a 1-1 draw.
“Rangers and Celtic are obviously the biggest games. Playing Celtic away, it was a huge stadium, with a huge atmosphere, and it was so good to walk on such a big pitch. Surreal.
“I just focused on the game and what we were going to do. I spoke to Amad briefly after the game, not much, it was really that. I think he was a bit disappointed that they didn’t win, but so was I!”
Levitt speaks to United’s loan squad twice a week to discuss various aspects of his development, with his parent club also keen to ensure he settles in well in his new surroundings.
The proof is in the pudding for the silky midfielder, and he believes going out on loan is an eye-opening learning experience that more youngsters should explore.
“I think we should just go out and find out what it’s like away from the U23s. Obviously when you’re in your first year at the U23s you want to prove yourself, but I think once that’s been done , I personally needed to go out and make a name for myself.
“Get as many games under your belt as possible and learn about different cultures, get out of your comfort zone. I think loans are beneficial. Even when I haven’t played Charlton I’ve learned things that are you’re always going to learn something.”
It looks certain Levitt will be named in the Wales squad for this month’s crucial World Cup qualifiers, and he’s heading into the next international break in arguably the best form of his career.
“I think knock on wood it’s the best I’ve played in a long time at a club football. I think confidence has been a huge part for me. Hopefully I can be called up for the playoffs playoffs in March and hopefully we can get through. That would be the dream.
A win over Austria would see Wales play a one-off game in Cardiff for the chance to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958. As fate would have it, Scotland would be their potential opponents for this match.
“(laughs) It would be a really good game. I think the atmosphere would also be electric. In other words, it would be a really good game to watch!”
A place at the World Cup later this year would give him the chance to prove he really is The best on Earth.
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