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Angel Gomes on how he used to copy Nani’s celebrations

Angel Gomes turns 17 at the end of August and the Manchester United Academy player will embark on his most important season yet with 2017/18 looking to be a great season for him. Gome made his United first team debut at the end of last season in the final Premier League match against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. He may not have started the match, but he came on for former captain Wayne Rooney in what was his last competitive match as a United player at the Theatre of Dreams, playing out the last two minutes of the match plus added time.

Gomes did not really get into the game, but his first taste of a first team fixture at Old Trafford will have been a big occasion for him, one to keep in his mind when things become tough, as they undoubtedly will on his rise through the ranks. To be picked by Jose Mourinho to play in the first team, no matter if it was the first match of the season, a match in the middle of the season or even a dead rubber at the end of the season is still something big, especially got the 16-year-old at the time. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Gomes spoke about the experience, saying:

“That moment has been with me a long time. There are times when I am sat at home and I’ll just be drifting away when I think of the game and how everything happened so quickly. It feels great to say that I am the club’s youngest Premier League player.”

Gomes was the youngest player since Duncan Edwards to play for the first team, which to say his name after the player whose future was so bright before the Munich Air Disaster will be something to spur the player on to succeed at the club, which is what everyone wats. Gomes is the most exciting prospect to come through the Academy in a few years and to think he could be playing as a regular in the first team in a few years is a thought to savour. During the 2016/17 season, Gomes has a few things to remember. Playing as a goalkeeper in the Mercedes-Benz Junior Cup in Germany will be one of the things to remember after goalkeeper Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui was injured, also being a ball-boy in the Emirates FA Cup clash with Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford, along with teammate Aiden Barlow. Gomes said:

“Yes, I was in goal in the indoor tournament we won in Germany and I was a ball-boy as well, in the FA Cup. To go from being a ball-boy to coming on for Wayne Rooney was amazing. What a player to come on for. Wayne Rooney is a club legend who I think will do amazing [things] at Everton. He helped me and spoke to me when I was coming on, so it was nice.”

Gomes, who was London-born but Salford-raised also went into some detail about his background, including the relationship with former United winger Nani, who many think is the player’s cousin, which is, in fact, incorrect – Nani is the player’s godfather. Gomes spoke about trying to recreate the player’s acrobatic celebration when he was much younger. The Academy starlet said:

“I’m a Salford lad at heart. I love being from Salford. It’s where I grew up so I always say that’s where I’m from. My dad [Gil Gomes] played at the Under-23 World Cup and is well-known in Portugal as they won it and he played with some great players as well. It’s nice to be following in his footsteps really.

“Nani is my godfather. He’s been amazing to me and gives me lots of advice. I am just lucky to have someone like that in my life. When I was younger, he used to be my idol. I used to watch him and even practice his backflips on the trampoline. I know I can’t do that now!”

Gomes is the captain of England at youth level and for some time now it has been clear the player has kept his feet rooted firmly to the ground, which is a good thing to see, especially in this day and age. Gomes has been brought up the Manchester United way and that will be something that helps him to emerge as one of the most exciting players at the club, which is something which is destined to happen sooner rather than later. As Sir Matt Busby once said; ‘if they are good enough, they are old enough’. Gomes concluded by saying:

“I’ve been here a long time. I started at the Under-6s and progressed up really. I used to play down [an age group] because of my height and physicality obviously but I was lucky to kick on since the Under-13s and it’s been amazing.

“I think people forget how young I am really. Of course, it would be a great experience to get a few more minutes in the first team under my belt at some point but I’ll just try to kick on in the Under-18s and Under-23s and learn a lot of things.

“I hope to gain a lot of experience in the UEFA Youth League, for example, and the Reserves have a new coach in Ricky [Sbragia] so it’ll be great to work under him too. Last season, we played some high quality football, but didn’t end up doing the ultimate thing of winning trophies. We want to win more this season.”

Gomes could be challenged this coming season, eligible to play for the Kieran McKenna’s U18’s, Nicky Butt’s U19 (in the UEFA Youth League) and Ricky Sbragia’s U23’s. There is also a chance that the player could rise into the first team again if he continues to impress manager Jose Mourinho. There is no guarantee though, Gomes will need to keep his head down, earn his plaudits and continue his rise through the ranks at Manchester United.

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