THE buzz around Shola Shoretire extended far beyond Old Trafford.
The Manchester United wonderkid, 17, was being courted by the likes of European giants Barcelona and Juventus before he signed his first professional deal with the Red Devils recently.
Shola Shoretire replaced Marcus Rashford for his debutCredit: PA:Press Association
Shola Shoretire came on as a sub against NewcastleCredit: PA:Press Association
Mason Greenwood warming up with Shola ShoretireCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Shola ShoretireCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Shoretire was then fast-tracked to the first team and added to the club’s Europa League squad ahead of their tie against Spanish side Real Sociedad.
He sat on the bench against Sociedad in Europe but his patience prevailed as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brought him on against Newcastle in the league, handing the youngest his pro debut.
Shoretire replaced Marcus Rashford with just a minute to go but got a sense of the big-time at Old Trafford.
His rapid ascension through the youth ranks has United big-wigs purring that the Nigerian-born star could be the answer to the club’s problems out wide after missing out on Jadon Sancho.
The skilful attacker’s game has also been compared to African football legend Jay-Jay Okocha, who graced Premier League pitches with Bolton Wanderers in the early 2000s.
WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
The diminutive teen, comfortable with both feet, can play out wide and through the middle.
It’s testament to his ability that United were already confident he has the ability to succeed at the highest level by eyeing him for a deal before he turned 17.
Shoretire, pronounced Shor-ay-ti-reh, joined Manchester United’s youth set up at the age of nine from Newcastle and has continued to blossom.
In last season’s FA Youth Cup, he fired United into the semi-final scoring at Old Trafford in the 2-1 defeat of Wigan Athletic.
Incredibly, earlier that day he was studying for his GCSEs at school.
“He was at school today, all day! Then he came over to Old Trafford to play,” Under-18 coach Neil Ryan revealed.
“It’s incredible really. Different day for him compared to other players.”
First team star Aaron Wan-Bissaka puts Shoretire through his paces ahead of the Europa League tie against Real SociedadCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Starlet Shoretire has been added to Man Utds Europa League squadCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Shoretire is one of a number of promising United youngsters coming through the ranksCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Blessed with quick feet, Shoretire has been likened to Jay-Jay OkochaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
UEFA YOUTH LEAGUE HISTORY
Shoretire appeared at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland at the age of 13 in 2017. And in 2019 he made history.
Aged just 14 years and 314 days he came on as a sub in United’s 2-1 win over Valencia, and became the youngest player to appear in the UEFA Youth League – a competition reserved for Under-19 teams.
“We want to keep them humble, hard-working,” Ryan explained.
“It’s not just the coaching staff who do that, there are a number of staff throughout the academy, right throughout the place, feeding the same messages. It’s what we pride ourselves on.
“When you see the professionalism of the likes of Marcus Rashford, he’s the shining example. Scott McTominay, so on. These boys are products of the academy and the staff who work with them. They are our examples.
“Good players can enjoy the big stage. [Shoretire] is a really exciting player. He’s evolving and developing, can play a number of different positions, he showed a great maturity I thought.”
In 2019 Shoretire made history as the youngest ever Uefa Youth League playerCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Shoretire was born in NigeriaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Shoretire celebrates scoring at Old Trafford in the FA Youth Cup against WiganCredit: Getty Images – Getty
NIGERIA OR ENGLAND?
With the stage set, Shoretire has joined first teamers Rashford and McTominay in training at Carrington ahead of the Europa League fixture against Real Sociedad.
Should he grasp his opportunity, like fellow youngster Mason Greenwood has, international honours will surely come to.
But a tug-of-war between Nigeria and England will ensure for which country he represents.
Although he was born in Africa, Shoretire has been invited to join England’s youth set-up in the past.
At the age of 17, with the world at its feet, decisions on who he could play for can wait for now. His first step is to conquer United.