Much of the talk in the wake of Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup win against Leeds has been focused on Hannibal Mejbri and Teden Mengi.
Rightly so. The 17-year-old pairing are incredibly talented, have both shown good leadership and are two of the most highly-rated prospects at the club. But Shola Shoretire is even younger and put in a good performance for United at Old Trafford.
Shoretire plays at Old Trafford just after 16th birthday
As Shoretire came out at the Theatre of Dreams, he was 16 years and 3 days old. That’s 260 days younger than Angel Gomes was when he made his first-team debut for the club, replacing Wayne Rooney from the bench.
There’s still time for Shoretire to equal that and the comparisons aren’t completely ridiculous.
But Shoretire is skilful and has enough about him to influence games despite his height, age and relative frailty.
Shoretire was United’s youngest U18 player ever
At 14, he became United’s youngest ever player at under-18 level, making his UEFA Youth League debut and setting a record in that competition too.
In the Milk Cup, he played two years up and scored a couple against players twice his size. At the 2019 Sparkasse & VGH Cup, a small-sided indoor tournament in Germany, Shoretire’s skills were delightful. Now he’s done the same in the FA Youth Cup.
He was unfortunate to go off with a small calf injury in the second half. In an atmosphere befitting the historic rivalry of United vs Leeds and Lancashire vs Yorkshire, Shoretire coped well.
He offered an outlet for United on the counter, taking the ball from set-pieces and holding it up well.
For someone of his stature, it shows an impressive maturity and good decision-making. His strength, not necessarily in the physical way, for a 16-year-old is excellent to see.
Patience will be key with Shola Shoretire
Born in 2004, Shoretire has a long way to go. As seen with Gomes, patience will be key. But with 11 appearances in the league and two in the FA Youth Cup, it’s been a good start to his time in the under-18s set-up.
With a brother half a decade below him, the Shoretire name might pop up again in a few years for regular watchers of United’s youth teams.
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