Sharpe Shooting For The Stars

An academy contract with one of world football’s biggest clubs, a goal on your international debut, and you’re only 15-years-old – it is what dreams are made of, quite literally Roy of the Rovers stuff.

But what does this have to do with the City of Nottingham, and the beautiful county of Nottinghamshire, we here you ask?

Well, that 15-year-old, attacking midfielder/winger is called Malachi Sharpe, and is the first cousin (once removed) of former Nottingham Forest, Arsenal, Manchester United and England legend, Viv Anderson – and Malachi, he’s recently signed an academy contract with Premier League giants, Manchester United.

Malachi’s father, Del Sharpe, has had a long association with local club, Basford United, where his young protégé was born as recent as 2006, that young protégé turns 16 in late November.

Turning out for a successful Vernon side, Malachi, and a large portion of his teammates, were soon scouted, and the door to stardom thrown wide open.

It would be Derby County who’d win the early race for Malachi’s signature, but it wasn’t an easy ride, it never is, as Del points out in an interview with the Nottingham Sport.

“Six of that Vernon side went on to play academy football after seeing themselves winning games, with big scores, week in, week out,” explained Del.

“Malachi though, he had trials with (Nottingham) Forest, (Notts) County, and Derby – Forest even sent people to our house to try talk us away from Derby, but, at that time, the set-up there, it was of a higher standard, so a much better option for him.”

In joining the young Rams, Malachi definitely flourished as his parents (Del and Louise, and family (sisters Malika, now 21, and Abigail, 7), and the Rams coaching team, watched as he continued to go from strength-to-strength.

“He signed with Derby when he was 9-years-old,” continued Del.

“By the time he was 13, he became their youngest player to sign a scholarship, and at 14, with Derby managed by former Dutch international, Philip Cocu, he was training with their first team,

“As for Manchester United, their first attempt to sign Malachi was rejected, but a second approach, earlier this year in fact, was accepted, and here we are.”

Quite often though, that success can be seen to be tinged with sadness, and Malachi’s footballing success did cover up such a scenario within his family, home-life.

“In 2018, Malachi’s youngest sister, Abigail was diagnosed with a form of cancer,” divulged Del.

“We’re fortunate as she’s in remission now, but it was a really difficult time, for all the family.

“What is surprising though is that this coincided with Malachi’s best season with Derby, so it looks like he used his football to focus his energies away from home.

“That, and we’re devout Christians, which really helped to keep us, and Malachi, grounded.”

Now though, at Manchester United, Malachi is registered with both their U16 and U18 squads, and recently, in a Premier League Cup match, scored his first goal for the young Devils.

Away to Birmingham City, Malachi was among the scorers as United were seen to run out emphatic, 8-2 winners, scoring his sides’ seventh goal in what was described as being a calm finish – “Mather’s defence-splitting pass put Sharpe through on goal and the winger made no mistake, slotting the ball past the helpless Brooks.” www.manutd.com

That was last month, in mid-September, and by mid-October, he was marking his international debut with a goal, scoring for Scotland U17s in a European Championship Qualifying win, 3-2, away to Northern Ireland.

Scotland in fact, is one of but three, countries in which Malachi qualifies to play for on the international front, Dell adding that: “He obviously qualifies for England, his country of birth; Scotland meanwhile comes because of his grandmother (Louise’s mother), and for Jamaica.

“They’ve all been in touch as well, but, right now, Scotland is close to heart.”

Nottingham, mixing with other countries, seems to a popular choice of later, with two, former Forest stars in the headlines – Ben Brereton (2015-19) made his debut for Chile in June 2021 due to his mother being Chilean (Brereton also played for England at U19s and U20s level), and most recently, Matty Cash (2014-20), who is eligible to be selected for Poland, again, through his mother.

The beautiful game though, it certainly runs through Malachi’s blood.

With his father Del having those strong connections to Basford United, mother Louise, as well as the Viv Anderson connection, her brother, Richard Davies, was also an academy player at Forest.

In Malachi though, the Red Devils was always going to be an option, not if, but when, his footballing dreams began to come true.

“His idols have been Cristiano Ronaldo, and more recently, Marcus Rashford,” continued Del.

“Marcus though, he’s done a lot for the community, and for children in general, and that really resonated with Malachi.

“That and Marcus sent a personal, welcome message, when Malachi signed for the club.

“But everything he’s done, it’s been his decisions, his choice, and we’ve supported that.

“We see the ugly side, the unnecessary pressure a lot, but Malachi, he’s a very chilled out, comfortable individual.

“He might be a Nottingham lad, which we’re proud of, but Manchester United has always been his club.”

Malachi Sharpe, your Nottingham family salutes you, and we wish you all the best for the future and the following of your dreams – shoot for the stars young man, shoot for the star.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @delly977 Malachi Sharpe has settled into life at Manchester United.

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