Ethan Wheatley reveals what Bruno Fernandes told him after coming on as Man United’s 250th academy graduate

That's the kind of mentality you want from a captain.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 25th April 2024

It was yet another landmark moment for Manchester United’s rich youth heritage this week as the Red Devils made way for the 250th academy player, with 18-year-old Ethan Wheatley making his debut against Sheffield United – and Bruno Fernandes wanted to make it special.

A whirlwind week or two is putting it lightly for young Ethan Wheatley, whose role in the Under 18’s recent League and Cup double earned him not only a call-up to the bench for the FA Cup semi-final this past Sunday but also his first senior appearance at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

Wheatley won the league with his side last week, having scored a hattrick in the youth team’s 9-1 win over rivals Liverpool earlier this month, but also managed to bag a brace against Manchester City in the Cup final on Tuesday night – the first time the club has ever lifted the trophy.

Cut to less than 24 hours later and he was named in the matchday squad against The Blades. While he might have only been given a short cameo, he was determined to make it as special as possible. So too was Fernandes, apparently, as Wheatley revealed a simple message from his captain before coming on.

You can see the moment Bruno gives Wheatley a clear instruction seconds after making his debut for United.

Speaking to MUTV after the home side’s 4-2 win over last-placed Sheffield, the Stockport-born striker said everything of what you would expect following his debut: “It’s an honour”, “a dream come true” and so on, but also revealed that man of the match was determined to help him score.


Wheatley said, “Bruno pulled me to the side and told me ‘I’ve got nine minutes to try and get you a goal!” He might not have managed it in the small window he was given but he certainly came close to a chance or two and it was apparent from the stands that he was trying to carve out any opportunity he could.

As for the 29-year-old Portuguese midfielder, who scored twice and grabbed an assist on the night, he told club media: “[Wheatley] should be really proud of himself. I hope he had his family and friends here today to see him because it’s a moment to not forget. It’s something he will always remember.”


It wasn’t just a special night for the youngster specifically, either, as he was also one of three U18s stars included in the matchday squad alongside Harry Amass and Louis Jackson, meaning that Man United continue to uphold a truly incredible stat when it comes to bringing through youth prospects.

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Some legacy that.

It looked as though it might be another chaotic night for the Reds when the visitors opened the scoring in the 35th minute and even managed to regain a 2-1 lead after half-time – especially with memories of the FA Cup drama against Coventry City still so fresh – but they managed to get the job done in the end.


A penalty plus a wonderful ranged finish from Bruno, as well as a much-needed goal for Rasmus Højlund, proved to be enough on top of Harry Maguire’s second headed goal in as many games to see them over the line – a team who were admittedly resigned to relegation months ago.

You can watch the highlights from the game HERE as well as Wheatley, Fernandes and Erik ten Hag’s post-match interviews in full down below:

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Featured Images — MUTV/Manchester United (via Instagram)