Man Utds strangest deadline day signing on "surreal" move and Di Maria nutmeg

Not many footballers have gone from scrapping it in League Two to being nutmegged in training by Angel Di Maria in the space of a couple of weeks – but there's one man who has.

Andy Kellett, who these days plays for Guiseley in the National League North, was the subject of one of the strangest Deadline Day moves in history in 2015 when he joined Manchester United on loan from Bolton Wanderers.

The last-minute deal raised eyebrows around the football world, not least from United fans who probably expected some big name signings to try and sustain a Premier League title push.

But instead, they got Kellett, a 21-year-old midfielder who had spent the last three months on loan from Bolton at League Two side Plymouth Argyle.

If United fans were shocked, so too was the man himself. A deal had been agreed for him to spend the rest of the season on loan at the Pilgrims – that was until United came in for his services.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Star Sport, Kellett takes up the story: "The deal at Plymouth had all been agreed. So I went to the training ground on Deadline Day, quite late on actually", he tells us.

"I went in and the manager said there’s an option for you to go to Man Utd on loan if you want. So that’s how it came about. I was going down to the training ground to sign for Plymouth and I ended up coming away signing for Man Utd.

"At first I was quite shocked by it. But then further on in the night I got quite emotional because it was quite a big thing. I can’t really remember my initial reaction, I just think I was in a bit of shock really."

Going from League Two to one of the biggest names in world football in the space of a few hours is quite the change of plan, and it soon dawned on Kellett just how different things were at United.

"It was quite surreal," he said, discussing what it was like to go into the training ground for the first time.

"Obviously I’d been to Carrington before having played games for Bolton in the U14s and U16s and that, but I’d never been inside the building.

"It literally had everything. It was a culture shock. The six months before I was at Plymouth, which I really enjoyed, but they didn’t have the kind of facilities that United had. So it was a massive, massive shock in terms of that."

Kellett spent most of his time as a United player in the club's under 23s, but he still enjoyed a considerable amount of time around the first-team, which at that time included Wayne Rooney, David De Gea and Angel Di Maria.

"On most of the training days lads like myself would go over to the first-team whenever they needed bodies," he adds. "So I trained with them quite a lot.

"And when the first-team had games, the lads who weren’t in the squad would drop down to the 23s, so there was always a lot of experience in training."

The standard between Plymouth and United was remarkably different for Kellett yet, in some ways, that made things easier for the midfielder.

"Obviously the standard was very good," he reveals. "I’ve always said this to people, though; I don’t know whether it was the surfaces or playing with better players, but it felt a lot easier than playing in the lower leagues where it’s a bit more like pinball.

"In training, you would get time on the ball, whereas lower down the levels everything was kind of frantic. If you gave someone an opportunity to score, they would score nine times out of ten.

"In terms of the standards, they were a lot higher. But in terms of actually playing, it felt like you had a lot more time than you would lower down.

"The under 23s had their own changing room but you’d all eat together and everyone would be in the same gym, so there were interactions all the time with the first-team.

"To be fair, I didn’t know whether, because of the different environment, they would take on young lads and that but they were probably just as down to earth as any other club I’ve been at."

In those whirlwind 24 hours after moving to Old Trafford, one moment, in particular, stands out to Kellett, even after all these years.

"I remember my first training session. I got nutmegged by Angel Di Maria. Obviously it was a bit of a thing because it was my first day.

"Everyone gave me a bit of banter, and, to be fair, I’m glad it happened because it made me relax. That stands out!"

Although Kellett never made a first-team appearance for United, he did get to play alongside Robin van Persie for the under 23s as he recovered from injury.

Safe to say, it was an incredible experience.

"It was surreal," he tells us. "Van Persie used to drop down all the time. I think he played four or five games while I was there.

"A few of them used to drop down more or less every single game. I’d watched Van Persie in the Premier League for ten years and you could just see how easy he made stuff look.

"Just the way he was dropping down, I know some first-team players when they play 23s, they might sulk and stuff like that, but the way he carried himself and presented himself when he used to drop down was great."

Although Kellett spent most of his time at United in the under 23s, it was never actually explained to him what his role would be upon joining the club.

Had the loan deal come about a year later, the former Bolton man, 28, believes he might have been in with a shot of playing for the first-team.

"I got told you’re going on loan to United, and then when I spoke to Warren Joyce the day after he said we as a team want to look at you," he says.

"He’d previously told my manager at Bolton that he’d been looking at me for a while and wanted to see what I was like in day-to-day training and stuff like that.

"It was never explained to me really. The only thing is, I never really felt like there was an opportunity to play for the first team.

"The year after they had quite a few injuries. I think Cameron Borthwick-Jackson ended up playing a few games and he was an under 18 while I was there. Maybe, if it had happened a year later, I might have had an opportunity."

Nevertheless, Kellett still looks back with great fondness at the few months he spent as a United player, although he does admit some doubts about whether he made the right decision.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity," he gushes. "The only question I ask myself is, at the time Plymouth were in the play-offs and they got to a play-off final that season.

"Could I have gone down that route, maybe? If we’d had gone up that year, we would have been League One. But I don’t think going from playing first-team to United’s under 23s – I don’t think that would have done me any harm because I might have got the move to Wigan from it.

After leaving United, Kellett went to Championship side Wigan Athletic, where he remained for three seasons before a move to Notts County.

These days he is in the National League North with Guiseley, a well-run community club who plied their trade in the National League itself until 2018.

"This is my second season at Guiseley," Kellett continues. "This year has been frustrating for myself because I’ve been in and out of the team with injuries and stuff.

"It’s a great club and there’s a lot of good people in and around the club. It’s just been frustrating for myself on a personal note. I’ve not really got going. I’m looking to get fit now and get back into the team and up the league."

At 28, Kellett still has plenty of years left in him as a footballer, and the Bolton-born star is targeting a return to the professional ranks in the near future.

He finishes: "Because I’ve gone part-time now I’ve got a lot of time in the day, so it’s kind of just testing what route I can go down career wise in the future.

"I’ve never done anything before aside from football. It’s quite a big decision to make where I’d like to go. I’d like to get back to full-time football and get back to where I was playing but that’s for me to stay fit and hopefully I can do that."

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