Meet Man Utd wonderkid ready to follow in Rashford and Greenwood’s footsteps


Image Source | Image by – Getty or Goal
Before signing his first professional deal, the 17-year-old
had Europe’s biggest clubs following him and may eventually make his first-team

On Thursday in Turin, if anything goes to plan for Shola
Shoretire, then the teenager might add his name to a long list of illustrious
Manchester United stars.


As part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, the 17-year-old has
traveled for the first time, suggesting he could make his debut against Real
Sociedad in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Doing so will see him introduced to the list of superstars
that bridged the distance between the academy of the club and the first team
while also finishing for the highly talented forward a pretty unforgettable

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Having celebrated his 17th
birthday at the start of February, United announced in the days that followed
that Shoretire
had signed his first professional contract with the club
interest in him from Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern

He was immediately promoted to train under the watchful eye of
Solskjaer, who must have been suitably impressed given the England youth
international’s presence in the group that flew out to Italy on Wednesday.

The bright lights of Juventus’ home ground, the Allianz Stadium,
promise to be a world away from the car headlights that used to
illuminate Shoretire’s local park in Newcastle as he put in extra training
sessions around a decade ago.

Born in the north-east, Shoretire’s first formal footballing
education came at the Wallsend Boys Club, whom he joined at the age of six.

Wallsend have a rich history
of producing players who go onto make their mark on the professional game, with
former United favourites Michael Carrick and Steve Bruce as well as
ex-England captain Alan Shearer among their alumni.

Shoretire is on the cusp of
becoming the 83rd player with previous links to Wallsend to make their debut at
the top level, and it was clear upon his arrival that he had both the ability
and personality to make the grade at a big club.

“When someone has that star talent you can just tell,”
Ian Riley, who coached Shoretire during his solitary year in the Wallsend
Under-8s, tells Goal. “It’s hard to
explain but it’s there already.

“If you throw a ball at them it just happens. You can teach
people how to control a ball and work on their touch, but some people just have
natural ability, and Shola was one of those.

“Wherever you played him he did alright because he had
determination and he always had confidence, though he mostly played on the
right wing. He liked to dribble and go past people and he liked to cross the
ball and he scored goals. He was an all-round little package.”

He adds of his demeanour: “There’s lots of players who are
really talented that don’t make it, they don’t have that drive. Shola had that
drive and you could see it from an early age he had it.

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“He was always quiet, always listened, always determined
and always wanted to win – you can’t give people that.”

Shoretire spent just 12 months with Wallsend, whom he led to the
league title, before joining Newcastle United’s academy and making an instant
impression on former coach David Ballantyne.

“When he arrived, he was small but he was strong as an ox,
and what really stood out for me was his national athleticism,” Ballantyne
tells Goal.

“I’ve coached thousands of kids over the years, and I can
count on one hand how many I would say who have a real chance of making it as a
pro, even at that young age, but there was something a bit special about

“He’s so quick, a natural athlete really. Light on his feet
which made him even quicker on the ball with his footwork. Hardly anyone could
get him off the ball due to his skill and his strength. He reminded me back
then of a young Micah Richards, so strong and so fast but technically good as

“He had a really good attitude – he was almost a perfectionist.
He used to get frustrated if he couldn’t do things first time or he was missing
the passes or the goals or the shots or if he couldn’t pick up the
technique first time.”

So determined was Shoretire to be the best that he would work
with Ballantyne – who owns the coaching company, Feet4Football
– one-on-one at the local park, with their sessions sometimes lasting long
into the evening.

Ballantyne’s only frustration is that he was
not able to keep Shoretire in the north-east, where he believes he would
already have made first-team appearances for Newcastle.

Instead the young forward departed for
Manchester after two years with the Magpies, and having originally been spotted
by academy scouts at Manchester City, he eventually found a home with the Red

Ever since joining United he has played above
his age-group, and in 2018 he became the youngest player to ever feature in the
UEFA Youth League when making his debut in the U19s competition at the age of
14 years and 314 days.

Last season he starred for the U18s side at
Old Trafford as they reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, most
memorably scoring in the quarter-final victory over Wigan Athletic despite
having spent the whole day at school before joining up with his team-mates in
the evening.

This term he has been key figure for Neil
Wood’s U23s team, scoring six goals and laying on three assists in 13
starts, including a hat-trick in the recent
6-4 win over Blackburn Rovers as he combined to devastating effect with new
signing Amad Diallo
 and French midfielder Hannibal Mejbri.

As Shoretire continues to develop, the most
pressing question surrounds his eventual position, given he has played on both
wings, as a central striker and as a No.10 over the course of the current campaign,
with his versatility having been compared to that of fellow teenage sensation
Mason Greenwood.

Image Source | Image by – Getty or Goal

Regardless of which role he ends up making his
own, it is clear that he is ready to be unleashed after largely being kept
under wraps in terms of media exposure by United’s staff.

“As the season has gone on you have seen
his talent. His work rate off the ball is excellent, and you can see in the
last couple of minutes he is the one chasing back and getting tight to
people,” Wood said recently. 

“You see the quality in his technique and
his touches. He is comfortable receiving it in tight spaces, he can turn so

“It’s been tough for him. He’s just
turned 17 and he’s playing against some older lads, so he’s had to find a way
of coping and he’s done that really well.

“Looking back to the first game to now
he’s done brilliant with that. He’s a talent and he’s one you have to be
patient with. Don’t expect too much too soon and let him develop and keep

So whether Shoretire is next in action on
Thursday in Turin or on Monday for United’s U23s against Everton, there is no
doubt that in the very near future the next special talent from the club’s
famed academy system will be making his mark at the Theatre of Dreams.

There is a reason Europe’s biggest clubs tried
to get their hands on Shoretire. Soon United supporters will get to see it for

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