Manchester United have seen something to cherish for a long time in the teenage star, Shola Shoretire who they described as ‘new Jay-Jay Okocha’.
Shoretire, who only turned 16 back in February, has already signed schoolboy terms, as well as a pre-contract to turn professional with the club.
The skilful attacker’s game has also been compared to African football legend Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, who graced Premier League pitches with Bolton Wanderers in the early 2000s.
His rapid ascension through the youth ranks has even got some Old Trafford 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 diminutive teen, comfortable with both feet, can play out wide and through the middle.
It’s testament to his ability that United are already confident he has the ability to succeed at the highest level by offering him a contract this early in his life.
Shoretire joined Manchester United’s youth set-up at the age of 10 from Newcastle and has blossomed since his arrival.
Last season, he fired United into the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup scoring at Old Trafford in the defeat of Wigan Athletic.
Amusingly, earlier that day he was studying for his GCSEs.
“He was at school, 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.”
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.”
With the stage set, Shoretire has a good chance in joining first teamers Rashford and McTominay if he plays his cards right.
And then, if he’s good enough, international honours could follow.
Although he was born in Africa, Shoretire has been invited to join England’s youth set-up in the past.
At the age of 16, with the world at its feet, decisions on who he could represent can wait for now.
But his first step is to conquer United.