Ethan Wheatley reveals Bruno Fernandes private gesture after Manchester United debut

Ethan Wheatley
Wheatley made his United debut. -Credit:MUTV

When Ethan Wheatley came on to make his Manchester United debut, Bruno Fernandes pulled him to the side and said he had nine minutes to create the youngster a goal.

Wheatley has made excellent progress in the academy and his goals fired the Under-18s to a trophy against rivals Manchester City on Tuesday night.

The 18-year-old was brought off at half-time in that cup final because he was required in the first-team squad to play Sheffield United just a day later, and it's been a whirlwind 24 hours because he became the 250th academy graduate to make his senior debut in that clash.

Wheatley replaced Rasmus Hojlund at the end of the game and nine minutes of injury time were added, which meant he was able to enjoy his cameo from the bench.

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The striker's debut also had wider importance, as Wheatley became the 250th player from the academy to make his debut for United - a remarkable club achievement.

After the match on Wednesday night, Wheatley spoke to MUTV and fought the smile on his face while he answered questions. "It's a great club with a massive history, especially in the academy. It's an honour to make my debut and that number - 250. That's a little bit extra," he said.

"I was just excited and when I got the call [to come on], there were a bit of nerves, but as soon as I was stripped and ready to go, I was excited and did my best for the team."

Wheatley was asked about his goals for the U18s - he scored an excellent brace in the first half - as they won a trophy on Tuesday and admitted 'it's not been a bad 24 hours'.

"As soon as it set off, it felt right as I hit it and thankfully it went in," he said about his first goal against City's U18s. "And then obviously, I got another goal quite soon after.

"That was enough for us to get the win. I think that's the first U18 Premier League Cup won with this club, so it's a great feeling. Hopefully we win the whole thing [the league] with the North versus South final next month. Adam Lawrence and Colin Little, all of the staff really [have helped].

"They've all helped me throughout the season. Last year was a bit stop-start and I didn't really develop as much as I wanted, but this season I've been able to stay on the pitch and work on using my body and other technical bits. I was talking to Colin before the game. I just feel like everything has come into place in these last few weeks, and I'm feeling a lot more confident."

Wheatley ended the interview by revealing Fernandes' message when he came on the pitch. "He pulled me to the side and said 'I've got nine minutes to try to get you a goal'.

"So I was just trying to get into positions for him and obviously it didn't come, but hopefully soon."

Erik ten Hag praised Wheatley and said: "Credits to the academy, but you also see the club is growing. It's clear, we are improving, there are players coming up to the first team. We are very pleased the 250th academy player made his debut tonight."