Shola Shoretire could soon make Man Utd forget all about Jadon Sancho
“If they’re good enough, they’re old enough.”
Manchester United have lived by Sir Matt Busby’s famous mantra for several decades, always giving first-team opportunities to their talented young players.
From the Busby Babes to the Class of 92 and their current crop of talent, United players have regularly proved that age is just a number.
The likes of Ryan Giggs and Marcus Rashford were strong swimmers almost from the minute they were thrown in at the deep end, but this doesn’t only apply to the first team.
Shola Shoretire first hit the headlines in 2018 when he became the youngest ever player to appear in the UEFA Youth League, coming off the bench against Valencia as a 14-year-old.
Born two days before Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, Shoretire was coming up against players that were five years his senior.
The diminutive winger may have looked like a rogue mascot running onto the pitch, but he certainly didn’t seem out of place during his 15-minute cameo.
14 years, 10 months, 10 days 😯
Shola Shoretire became the youngest ever Man Utd player to ever appear in a official youth league/cup game. pic.twitter.com/1ySRM9nJBc
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 12, 2018
While a lot of talented teenagers can drift into obscurity after their 15 minutes of fame, Shoretire has continued to make waves in United’s youth teams.
Despite studying for his GCSEs during 2019-20, he also made 13 appearances in the Under-18 Premier League before the season was curtailed.
Most of his peers probably went home from school and played FIFA on the PlayStation, pretending to play at incredible stadiums like Old Trafford, whereas Shoretire made that dream a reality in February 2020, firing United into the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup after scoring against Wigan.
“He was at school today, all day! Then he came over to Old Trafford to play,” Under-18 coach Neil Ryan said after the game. “It’s incredible really. Different day for him compared to other players.
“Good players can enjoy the big stage. He is a really exciting player. He’s evolving and developing, can play a number of different positions, he showed a great maturity I thought.”
— aidan (@englandyouth) February 28, 2020
Despite only being 16 years old at the start of the season, Shoretire was promoted to Neil Wood’s Under-23s squad ahead of 2020-21.
The Nigerian-born starlet has taken to his new surroundings like a duck to water, scoring five goals and registering three assists in his first 13 appearances.
“Shola has always played up a year through his whole academy career,” Wood said in December 2020. “I can’t remember him ever playing his own age group. He has always been stretched.
“He is very mature for his age, the way he plays, he does a lot of work, takes a lot of positions up, and he has played a lot of roles. He’s played [number] nine, he’s played left, he’s played on the right, he’s played 10 and whatever you ask him to do – on and off the ball – he is going to do it. You can trust him to do that job.
“He is very young and doing excellent for the age of him. I am not expecting him to be man of the match or [a] main figure of the team, because he is so young, but he’s not going on that pitch and drowning or anything. He has probably been one of our most consistent outstanding performers throughout the season.”
Having previously said that his inspiration is Barcelona legend Ronaldinho, it’s no surprise that the winger is an absolute joy to watch.
With a low centre of gravity and incredible dribbling ability that often leaves defenders with twisted blood, it’s easy to see why he’s so highly rated.
Shoretire is also comfortable with both feet and has a wide range of skills in his locker, drawing comparisons with former Bolton entertainer Jay-Jay Okocha.
During United Under-23s’ recent win over Southampton, he showcased his brilliant footwork and glided past three opponents before picking out Facundo Pellistri with a sumptuous through ball.
— United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) December 4, 2020
It’s almost like watching the little kid from Year 7 utterly humiliate one of the talented Year 11’s on the school playground.
According to The Sun, United believe that Shoretire is the new Jadon Sancho and consider him as a potential alternative to the Borussia Dortmund winger.
The Red Devils have already showcased their faith in the 17-year-old, giving him his first professional contract earlier this week before letting him train with the senior squad.
It might be a little while until he’s scoring incredible goals like this for the first team, but then again we wouldn’t put anything past him judging by the evidence so far.