Ex-United graduate and prodigy Tom Thorpe signs for ATK

Defending Hero Indian Super League (ISL) champions Atlético de Kolkata seem to be using their Manchester United connections to good effect as they have signed up former academy graduate Tom Thorpe for the upcoming season.

Thorpe becomes the fourth ex-United player to join an ISL team this year after Dimitar Berbatov, Wes Brown and Paul Rachubka all signed for Kerala Blasters earlier during the pre-season.

The defender, who had joined United as a first-year academy scholar at the age of 16, belongs to the class of 2011 that won the FA Youth Cup that year. In fact, playing alongside the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Michael Keane, the then 18-year-old captained the team throughout the season. While both Pogba and Lingard have established themselves at Old Trafford, and Keane consolidated his spot at Burnley before his big-money switch to Everton, Thorpe had spells with Birmingham City, Rotherdam United, Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers.

The 6’2” tall youngster was always touted for greatness, and even though injuries kept persisting, his never-say-die attitude forbade him to quit.

At ATK, he will be under the tutelage of two personalities who are familiar with the United set-up. Head coach Teddy Sheringham is a former, and a successful, Red Devils striker while technical director Ashley Westwood was himself an academy graduate of the club.

Thorpe also becomes the third player with Premier League experience on ATK’s roster this season after Irishman Robbie Keane and Finland ‘keeper Jussi Jääskeläinen also signed for the two-time champions.

ATK would hope that Thorpe’s experience in England, combined with his obvious potential would lay the foundation for a solid backline. That, and the fact that Sheringham and Westwood come from similar backgrounds, should pay dividends with regards to how the player settles in with the squad. Still only 24, and known to be a no-nonsense defender who hardly allows any room for error at the back, his addition gives the Kolkata-based team’s defence a mean look.

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