Who is Zak Dearnley? Sheffield lad gets first Manchester United senior call-up from Jose Mourinho

Zak Dearnley could make his Manchester United debut today. PIC @MUFC
Zak Dearnley could make his Manchester United debut today. PIC @MUFC
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Sheffield-born football starlet Zak Dearnley could realise his goal after being called into the Manchester United squad for the first time.

Dearnley has been named on the bench by Jose Mourinho for the Red Devils' final Premier League game of the season against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.

It marks a superb rise through the ranks for Dearnley who left his home city at the age of 13 to commit himself to becoming a star at Manchester United.

Speaking to The Star in December 2015, Dearnley said it was a difficult move at first, but back then at the age of 17, he made it is aim to break into the first team in 18 months - and he could be just about to meet that ambition.

“My aim is to make the first team,” Zak told The Star. “Within the next 15 to 18 months. That’s the aim. I’d also like to go out on loan at some point to get some experience; I’d love to play for Sheffield Wednesday if possible, my uncle’s team. If not, then I’d settle for a year or so abroad, in Italy, France or Spain. The prospect of learning another language, seeing a different way of life, excites me. There’s still a long way to go, of course, and I’m not getting ahead of myself just yet. But my absolute, number one aim is to play for Manchester United.”

The forward says he has been likened to Andrei Kanchelskis but there's no doubting who he is hoping to emulate.

He said: “Being two-footed and being able to play on both wings, as well as up-front, is a real advantage for me. I’ve been likened to Andrei Kanchelskis by a few people, but my role model is Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Dearnley, who has been dogged by injuries during his development - put down to growing pains which hampers a lot of young players - came off the bench for Manchester United's under 23 side this week in a game which was watched by Mourinho.

The boss obviously saw enough to give Dearnley, who began his fledgling football career with Penistone Church, the opportunity this afternoon.

“I moved to Manchester at 13, and it was tough - I almost quit at one point," Zak told The Star's Danny Hall. "I couldn’t handle being away from home, living with different people, training all the time. I was at a new school, making new friends, away from my family. I’m used to it now, of course, but it’s tough at the time. It makes you appreciate the sacrifices players make to get to the top; I’m a much more confident person because of it. And, to get to where I want to be, it’s just what needs to be done.”