Manchester United fans were baffled when they signed Andy Kellett on Deadline Day of the January transfer window in 2015.
In a season where the Red Devils had snapped up Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, it was certainly surprising to see the club making a last-ditch move for a Championship player.
Kellett was plying his trade for Bolton Wanderers at the time and was fresh from a brief spell at Plymouth Argyle when the remarkable opportunity to move to Old Trafford on loan transpired.
‘Worst-rated Championship player’
And the eye-opening transfer was made all the more bewildering by the fact that Kellett held the unwanted status of being the worst-rated player in England’s second-tier during that very season.
According to the Independent, WhoScored statistics ranked Kellett rock bottom out of any player to have appeared in the Championship up to that point in 2014/15 with a miserable rating of 5.56.
Kellett had amassed merely 51 minutes in the division that campaign when he was hauled off while Bolton were trailing 3-0 to Rotherham United, which was enough to earn the unfortunate record.
Kellett makes last-gasp Man Utd move
However, United‘s subsequent move for the youngster made a lot more sense when it became apparent that he had been acquired to provide cover in the club’s Under-21s team.
With Bolton taking United youngster Saidy Janko on loan for the rest of the season, Kellett moved in the opposite direction for what endures as one of the club’s strangest and most charming transfers.
And upon the advent of 2022’s Deadline Day in the January transfer window, Mirror Football had a chat with the 28-year-old to reminisce on his last-gasp scramble to become a United player.
Kellett had received a phone call from his agent telling him not to sign another deal with Plymouth and that all would become clear when he arrived at Bolton.
The left-back and midfielder reminisced: “When I got in there, the manager – Neil Lennon at the time – said: ‘There’s an opportunity to go to Man Utd, if you want.’
“I didn’t think it was a joke, but it was a shock to me. Obviously when he told me I was buzzing.”
Reflecting on the chaos of Deadline Day, Kellett recalled: “I remember having to rush over from Chorley to Carrington. I was actually still at Carrington when the deadline closed, it was probably 10:30pm or maybe 11pm.
“Everything was just thrown on to me at the last minute, but they’re the most exciting!”
The Englishman then added: “Obviously going to Man Utd was massive for me, but the chaos of that day didn’t really bother me. I was more excited than anything.
“As the day was building up, I always thought I was going back to Plymouth, so it was kind of just the last half an hour of the day that was chaotic.
“To be fair, I was quite chilled about it. When I first got told, though, I was quite emotional. It was an opportunity that not a lot of people get. Apart from that little bit at the end, the day was quite quiet!”
Kellett’s career journey
Kellett never did make a permanent move to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, but he still made the most of his time at the club by helping to guide United’s youth team to the Premier League 2 trophy.
After returning to Bolton, Kellett proceeded to sign a three-year contract with Wigan Athletic, but eventually moved out on loan to Chesterfield for the 2017/18 season amid limited game time.
Spells with Notts County, Fylde and Alfreton followed, before Kellett secured a move to Guiseley – who now play in the National League North – that has since provided him with consistency.
“For whatever reason I’ve dropped down, probably due to injury,” Kellett pondered when asked about his career trajectory. “I’ve not played consecutively for a number of years now.
“But I’m at Guiseley now and really enjoying it. They’ve got a great set of people there – staff and players.
“I’ve always got a vision of trying to get back as high as I can, but the main thing for me is just keeping fit every week. It’s different at non-league, the budgets are smaller and they depend on the supporters.
“I’m just grateful to the management and staff for being patient with me because I know it’s probably just as frustrating for them as it is for me.”
So, sure, English football’s seventh tier might be a far cry from his move to United all those years ago, but what matters most is that Kellett is enjoying the sport that he loves the most. Top man.