Back to school for United debutant Wheatley

Ethan Wheatley
[Getty Images]

Manchester United history maker Ethan Wheatley celebrated becoming the 250th Academy graduate to make his first-team debut for the Old Trafford club by going to school.

The 18-year-old striker was an injury-time replacement for Rasmus Hojlund in Wednesday's 4-2 win over Sheffield United.

It capped a remarkable week for Stockport-born Wheatley, who was on the bench for the FA Cup semi-final against Coventry at the weekend and then played a key role in United Under-18s Premier League Cup final win against Manchester City on Tuesday.

But it didn’t excuse him his studies as he aims to get an Extended Diploma in Marketing.

“He has been at school this morning,” said United’s head of academy, Nick Cox.

“When you are a youth team player, you are still of scholarship age and duty bound to continue with your education. He is in the upper sixth, so he has to stay at the school until the end of the year.

“He has been pestering us to come into school and get the education finished. He has never told me this but I would suspect one motive is that it would feel pretty good walking into school having just made your Manchester United debut. I don’t blame him for that.”

An England Under-17 international, Wheatley showed no fear during his brief time on the pitch at Old Trafford and is likely to keep his place in Erik ten Hag’s squad for Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Burnley.

It is a far cry from a trip to the Czech Republic as an 11-year-old recalled in a conversation between Cox and Neil Gittens, United’s head of player development for youngsters between the ages of nine and 12, in the wake of Wheatley’s senior bow.

“Neil and I took Ethan on a tour to the Czech Republic,” said Cox. “We were recalling how nervous and tearful he was about being away from home.

“He was a little bit overawed by the whole experience. We had to encourage him and coax him to play games. We were basically bribing him with chocolate pancakes. That feels like yesterday.”