Who is Betinho? The striker who isn't actually registered for Manchester United

Betinho (right) playing for Belenenses in the Primeira Liga
Betinho (right) playing for Belenenses in the Primeira Liga / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Betinho. He's the name on everybody's lips. And remarkably, he's not even an infuriating new Paddy Power gimmick. He's a real player. An actual human being. Say it with me: Betinho. He's just like you and me. Except he once played for Brentford.

(He made exactly one appearance).

Fans were shocked to see him on the Premier League's official squad list for Manchester United's game against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, but there he was.

But how did he get there? Random glitch or an out-of-the-blue, under-the-radar signing? Maybe United were that annoyed at missing out on Cody Gakpo they just signed the very next professional footballer they found. Maybe Betinho has been there all along and we just never noticed.

Maybe you're Betinho. Yes, you. Reading this. Maybe I am. Maybe there's a little Betinho inside us all.

But where to begin with the long and winding tale of Betinho?

Who is Betinho?

Well, Alberto Alves Coelho (born 21 July 1993), known as Betinho, is a Portuguese footballer who plays for S.C. Espinho as a striker. Not my words. The words of Top Gear Magazine. Sorry, Wikipedia.org.

Just like other Portuguese greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Ricardo Quaresma, Betinho came through the illustrious Sporting Clube de Portugal academy.

And you know what? He was even mildly prolific for their B team, scoring 16 goals in 50 games. Certainly not anything to write home about but by no means terrible, earning himself loan moves first to Vitoria Setubal and then Brentford, who were in the Championship at the time.

Mark Warburton, however, was clearly not impressed with what he saw. A player with 14 goals in 20 appearances for Portugal's under-19 setup. In fairness to Betinho, you simply aren't breaking into a team that had Andre Gray up top. Even Scott Hogan and Will Grigg didn't get a look in.

From there, Betinho joined Belenenses, the first club outside of Portugal's 'big three' to win the Primeira Liga. They're not doing so well now, although that has nothing to do with Betinho. Probably. He made only five appearances for them.

A series of further mediocre loan spells followed before our hero moved to his current team - Sporting Clube de Espinho - who sound made up and are not even available to play with on the current iteration of Football Manager, having been relegated from the Portuguese fourth tier last season.

That was despite a blistering return of five goals in 13 appearances from Betinho.

However, if you load up the Portuguese leagues Betinho is there. Semi-professional, but there. With 13 finishing, a value of between 0 and £50,000 and a contract expiring in 2023. His weekly salary, £300, is unlikely to cause you any problems too. It's not going to break the bank. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Is it time to save Betinho? Is it time for the punt of all punts on a guy who could turn out to be the next Carlos Fierro?

How did Betinho respond to the error?

Manchester United could do worse in their search for a new, long-term number nine. Sure, he's already 29, but just think how well Jamie Vardy played throughout his early 30s. And Betinho presumably doesn't pour Red Bull over his morning cereal.

He's got the ability to be part of a much better team. For example, in 2013 he led the line for the Portuguese under-21s in a 5-1 thrashing of Norway. Betinho opened the scoring, spearheading a team that also contained the likes of William Carvalho, Joao Mario, Ricardo Pereira, Rafa Silva, Sergio Oliveira and Ivan Cavaleiro.

Sadly, the Premier League do appear to have confirmed the incident as a 'technical issue', meaning we won't get a chance to see the Erling Haaland of the Portuguese fifth tier compete in the best league in the world after New Year.

Betinho, at least, saw the funny side, telling Jornal de Noticias that he 'got more calls today than on [his] birthday!'

Actually, that's kind of sad when you think about it. Betinho deserves better friends.

Yet, of all the players, why Betinho? Was this man plucked from obscurity to have his moment in the spotlight, appearing as a metaphysical substitute for Manchester United?

That's something only the football gods can answer. As for Betinho, he can at least take solace in the fact that he is playing, albeit semi-professionally, while that other Sporting legend, Cristiano Ronaldo, remains officially unemployed as a free agent.

Life is all about the small victories.