Mark Lynch is living a dream. Ten years ago he was an 11-year-old boy who played for a local colts football team in his hometown of Manchester, England. All he hoped for was to one day be like his idols and play for Manchester United at Old Trafford. That year, a scout from United spotted Lynch's talent for the game and invited him for a trial at the club. They were impressed and recruited him to play for their academy team. In the summer of 1998, at age 17, Lynch finished school, and the club signed him onto the Youth Training Scheme - the British government's job training programme for young people. Just 12 months later, he had made so much progress that the club offered him a full-time professional contract. 'It's the hardest club in the world to get into so it's a dream come true,' said Lynch, who is now 21 and a regular member of the reserve team and occasional player for the first team. The central defender said he won his contract through sheer determination and single-mindedness. 'You have to be really focused and determined to be the best. Once you have your contract, you can move up through the ranks and hopefully break into the first team,' said Lynch, who spoke to the Young Post before playing in last weekend's Philips Lighting Soccer 7s tournament at Hong Kong Football Club. It was during the 2000-01 season that Lynch broke into the reserve team after having made a notable contribution to the under-19s in the FA Premier Academy League. But Lynch said the most exciting highlight of his career so far was when he made his United first team debut in March last year. 'It was against Deportivo La Coru?a in the UEFA Champions League. It was something I had dreamt about since I was a lad - so it was special. It was in Spain and the atmosphere was a bit intimidating, but it was a superb pitch to play on,' he said. Since then, he has been unable to get a run in the team. But two of his former Academy teammates, John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher, have established themselves this season. 'At United, you have to take your chance like they have done. We talk to each other a lot and give each other advice,' Lynch said. 'It's difficult at United, but if I can't make it, there is still the rest of the football league I could play in. I'm an old head now, there are a lot of talented lads coming through.' Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful coach ever in English football, pays close attention to the development of his young United players. 'He is always checking to see you are doing the right things. He keeps an eye on you. We all know what is allowed and what isn't,' Lynch said. 'You learn from other people's mistakes sometimes. Drinking [alcohol] is out of the question. If you have the wrong attitude, you won't last long.'