Former Atletico Madrid talent who once caught Guti's eye spotted training with Sheffield United

General view of Bramall Lane on October 04, 2013 in Sheffield, England,

Sheffield United are preparing for Tuesday's FA Cup trip to Reading.

(BILD ZEITUNG OUT) General view of the Wanda Metropolitano stadium  prior to the Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Villarreal CF at Wanda Metropolitano on February 23, 2020 in...

A teenager who spent six months on the books of Atletico Madrid, where he caught the eye of Guti, was called up to train with the Sheffield United first-team on Thursday.

Zak Brunt, a Chesterfield-born attacking midfielder, was pictured by the Blades' official Twitter account shielding the ball from a pair of first-team stars, George Baldock and Sander Berge.

Brunt returned to Sheffield United in 2018 from Matlock Town, around a decade after he trained with the Premier League side for the very first time.

The drive to Bramall Lane and back via Matlock's Causeway Lane ground is one of roughly 40 miles, and would typically take you around an hour and 20 minutes to complete. But Brunt's round trip encountered multiple diversions, as outlined within the Michael Calvin book, No Hunger in Paradise.

 

Those intervening years brought stints at Aston Villa, Manchester United and Manchester City, before he and his father, Glen, flew to Spain in search of a fresh start, having fallen out of love with the English academy system.

Atleti eventually took him on, though Brunt continued to play 'informally' with the son of José María Gutiérrez Hernández - commonly known as 'Guti', the former Real Madrid and Spain number 10.

Guti of Real Madrid FC celebrates his goal against Rayo Vallecano during their first division match in Rayo Vallecano stadium in Madrid 20 May 2001. AFP PHOTO Marc Alex

Guti's attempt to arrange a trial with the 13-time champions of Europe failed, however, as Brunt and his father were forced to return home due to FIFA regulations, set up to tackle child trafficking. 

Interest from Arsenal and Chelsea followed, but it was Derby County that Brunt eventually joined around the time of his 14th birthday.

Sheffield United's English manager Chris Wilder gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Bournemouth at Bramall Lane in...

Four years on, Brunt is now a regular in the Sheffield United Under-23 team and, with any luck, may be close to a first-team breakthrough, with Tuesday's FA Cup trip to Reading presenting the Blades boss Chris Wilder with a rare chance to rotate his squad.

And should Brunt's bow indeed arrive in Berkshire, then all of that early upheaval would, at last, be worthwhile.

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