Sheffield-born Zak Dearnley made a breakthrough he craved in his fledgling football career after being named in Manchester United’s first team squad for the first time.
The 18 year old was part of a youthful Red Devils squad that defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 in their final Premier League game of the season, but Dearnley had a watching brief as he sat on the bench.
However, the forward, who was picked up by United at the age of 13 after being seen playing for Penistone Church, was nevertheless thrilled to have earned a place in Jose Mourinho’s chosen 18.
He tweeted afterwards, alongside a picture of his no 48 shirt hanging on the Old Trafford dressing room wall:“What an experience that was being involved with the 1st team today thanks for your support.”
Mourinho was keen to make a swift exit after the match, three days before their Europa League final clash with Ajax.
Having seen the youngest United team in Premier League history wrap up the club’s domestic season with the win, Mourinho left little time for post-match media commitments.
The Portuguese spoke to United’s in-house channel MUTV only very briefly following the game, saying: “Don’t ask me too many things because now I am in a final. Let me go home, I am in a final now.”
When then asked if he knew his team for the final in Stockholm, Mourinho replied: “I know, but let me go. I am in a final now.”
Mourinho also entered the room for his post-match press conference while most of the journalists at the ground were still in the press box to watch the players taking part in a lap of honour.
The press officer with him immediately asked if there were any questions, and after none were forthcoming in the six seconds or so before she then said “No?”, Mourinho promptly added “good - bye guys” and left.
United went into this contest already certain of finishing outside the Champions League places in sixth.
They will gain access to Europe’s premier club competition if they win on Wednesday, and with an eye on the Ajax match, Mourinho rested numerous players on Sunday as he handed full debuts to four youngsters.
Each of that quartet of Joel Pereira, Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay and Josh Harrop performed well.
And it was 21-year-old midfielder Harrop who provided the highlight of the game when he marked his senior bow with a superb strike to open the scoring in the 15th minute. Paul Pogba then doubled United’s lead four minutes later.
The final stages of the match saw Wayne Rooney, on what was possibly his final competitive appearance at Old Trafford with United, being substituted for 16-year-old Angel Gomes, who became the first player born in 21st century to feature in a Premier League game, and the youngest player to have represented the Red Devils in the division.