Born in Chesterfield, impressed Guti and an £150,000 bounty on his head at 15 - Who is Zak Brunt, the latest Sheffield United debutant?

Zak Brunt, the Chesterfield-born youngster, has become one of Sheffield United’s latest debutants after being handed a start for the Blades’ EFL Cup clash against Carlisle United tonight.

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 7:11 pm

Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic has rung the changes from United’s defeat to Birmingham at the weekend, putting out 11 new players – including five debutants in Brunt, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Kacper Lopata and brothers Tyler Smith and Kyron Gordon.

Born in November 2001, Brunt has been an impressive performer for the Blades’ U23s and has previous experience of being involved in the senior matchday squad.

And for a player born just down the road from Sheffield, his route to Bramall Lane was a complex one - as detailed in the journalist Michael Calvin's book, No Hunger in Paradise.

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Brunt trained with United when he was a youngster, but after spells at clubs such as Aston Villa, Manchester City and Manchester United, Brunt and his father Glen grew disillusioned with the English youth set-up and flew to Spain.

There he caught the eye of Atletico Madrid - and the former Real Madrid star Guti - but was unable to sign for Atleti because of Fifa red tape.

He returned home and signed for Derby County, who placed a £120,000 bounty on his head with other clubs interested.

"Unless you're the next Cristiano Ronaldo, clubs don't want to pay £120,000 for a 15-year-old," Brunt said at the time. So he dropped into semi-professional football with Matlock Town, before signing for the Blades and penning a professional deal at Bramall Lane last year.

Zak Brunt of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage