Man Utd’s latest star Anthony Elanga almost ended up at City after impressing scouts on arrival from Sweden at the age of 11
ANTHONY ELANGA may be Manchester United’s brilliant new thing in a season of mediocrity – but he could easily have played for the bitter rivals City.
The 19-year-old forward has been a rare spark this month as senior Red Devils stars draw criticism for their moaning and attitude.
After Elanga’s first Prem start of the season in the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa, United boss Ralf Rangnick noted yesterday: “He showed up at training and that’s why I decided to play against him – he showed exactly what I expected him to deliver. “
Elanga’s rise attracted smiles at Hattersley FC, which he joined as an 11-year-old in 2013 after coming from his native Sweden with his mother Daniella and two sisters, Sandra and Chanelle.
Ian Forder, who was in charge of the team at the time, told SunSport: “Anthony came to watch Hyde United, who normally trained next to us.
“I could see that he was with his mother and looked quite lost.
“I just walked up to him and said, ‘Can we help you?’ and he asked if we were Hyde United.
“I said, ‘No, we’re Hattersley. Hyde normally trains on the next level but they have not appeared. Where do you live?’
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“He said he lived in Hyde, so I said, ‘Look, rather than have a wasted trip, come and train with us.’
“He put on his boots and moved on.
“Ten minutes later, I hand signing papers to his mother!
“It was really a cold and wet night in January. I really think that’s why Hyde never showed up, so it was their loss. It can be cold in September there!
“But I did not let him go after those ten minutes. When his mother returned the forms and I saw his age, I thought, ‘I will not let you go, boy – you will not be here long.’
Elanga started for Hattersley’s U-12 at the time – but his talent meant he stopped playing in a higher group.
It also started a friendship with businessman John Croke, who runs a carpet store in Hyde.
One that is still going on today and has seen several football memories conveyed.
City showed interest at first and he had a few workouts with them.
Elanga’s first coach
In just 12 games, Elanga scored 17 goals and assisted, according to Ian, another 27.
No one is surprised to see him make it all the way to United’s first team – but it was the blue half of Manchester who first showed interest.
Ian, 62, who lives in Hattersley, added: “City showed interest first and he had some training sessions with them.
“I had the U-14 team then and I really should not have played against him – but I was not going to let him play for anyone else.
“Immediately I could say that he had something, he was outstanding.
– He picked up the ball on his own half of the field, went past seven players, around the goalkeeper and put it in with a footer.
“I turned to John and said, ‘Did you just see that?’
“One of the parents was a scout and he contacted United’s chief scout, who looked at him.
“I think it was an 8-1 loss but Anthony was outstanding.
“John helped Anthony a lot when he first wrote on schoolboy forms because his mother did not drive and he took him to The Cliff and back for training.”
Elanga stays in touch with people at the place where it all began and he recently coughed up £ 80 for Hattersley to play a match at Alder Community High School after their own pitch was waterlogged.
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