Mullingar lad is Manchester United’s fastest player

Speed tests carried out at Manchester United’s Carrington training complex recently revealed that the Old Trafford club’s fastest player is not a from its star-studded first team, but a young winger from its academy.

Online reports last week revealed that Mullingar lad Ayodeji ‘Deji’ Sotona, who turns 17 in December, is the quickest player on United’s books.

The hugely talented prospect posted the news on social media last week. He is reported to have finished ahead of the rest of the academy and the entire first team by recording a phenomenal top speed of 22.9mph.

This put the former Mullingar Athletic star 1.2mph faster than the next quickest player at United, Portuguese wing-back Diogo Dalot, with new signing Daniel James in third, and England international Marcus Rashford in fourth.

Left/right winger Sotona, who signed a scholarship deal with United earlier this year, made his debut for the club’s U18s in the spring and scored his first goal against Liverpool recently.

Deji, who was born in Waterford, moved to Mullingar as a child and attended Mullingar Educate Together National School, where he was part of the ETNS team that won a Cumann na mBunscol boys’ Division 4 Gaelic football title in 2013, and an Iggy Fulham Memorial Cup in 2015.

He also joined Mullingar Athletic and Mullingar Harriers, enjoying success with Athletic’s U12s and winning a number of provincial and national sprinting medals with Harriers.

He was with the Grange-based athletics club in 2013 and 2014, where he won a Leinster indoor 60m U12 medal and an All-Ireland bronze in 2013. That same year, he ran lead leg for the 4x100m relay (U12); the team won a silver medal.

In 2014, the former St Finian’s College student started to gravitate towards soccer and before long, was scouted and snapped up by Manchester United’s academy.

He has since been capped by the Republic of Ireland at schoolboy level, but is eligible to play for both Nigeria and England.

“Deji was a very nice lad, and well liked by all in our club, and indeed in his other clubs as well. He’s just a very friendly lad,” said Greg Duggan, his sprinting coach at Mullingar Harriers.

“He’s a big loss to athletics and a very fine sprinter, but it’s great to see him making his mark in England.”

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