Not many strikers in world football have had a dream debut of scoring, but Manchester United academy star Marcus Rashford enjoyed a dream debut for the Reds first-team, scoring twice to help his team through to the last 16 of the Europa League.
The striker, aged just 18, looks set for a bright future after his stunning first appearance for the Reds against Midtjylland was followed by an impressive close to the Premier League season.
The local lad, from Wythenshawe, also scored on his England debut in a friendly against Australia and was included in Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016. He made his competitive debut coming on as a 70th-minute substitute in the group game against Wales.
Rashford is the latest United youngster to emerge from the renowned Fletcher Moss junior football club. Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck, Ravel Morrison, Zeki Fryers and Tyler Blackett all played for the Didsbury team, while some of Rashford’s current teammates at United also featured for Fletcher Moss. Demi Mitchell, Devonte Redmond, Ro-Shaun Williams, and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson all turned out for one of Manchester’s most successful junior sides.
Manchester City even tried to lure Rashford to the blue half of Manchester in 2014 but his decision to stay at United has paid dividends.
He’s a natural-born striker, full of pace and has a powerful shot and the ability to play in a number of attacking roles, either as an out and out striker or in more of a number 10 role.
Rashford capitalised on Demetri Mitchell’s injury woe and scored six goals in 11 Premier League Under-18 games seasons ago, while he also netted a double in the Uefa Youth league win at PSV Eindhoven and a penalty against Wolfsburg.
After which his then under-19 coach Nicky Butt heaped praises on the talented youngster: “Marcus is explosive, he’s a very talented boy but a good, hard worker as well. He’s a good lad to have in the side because he puts a shift in for the team. He’s explosive and he scores goals.”
Of the PSV win, Butt added: “We came out and played the football we felt was right for us and they could not handle Marcus’s pace up front, so we knew it was not a passing game for us but more getting behind them effectively. We did that and won 3-0 so I was really pleased with the second half.”
Rashford scored the opening goal in the Manchester derby on March 20.
He became the first Mancunian United goalscorer in a derby since Paul Scholes in 2010.
He is also the youngest scorer in a Manchester derby in Premier League history (18 years 141 days).
Rashford scored five goals in eight starts following his goalscoring debut against Midtjylland.
The Marcus Rashford story is interesting. Mourinho’s arrival and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s signing raised understandable questions about Rashford’s future, but Mourinho has protected and supported Rashford, playing him on the wing when there was not a role through the middle and moving him to the centre in the wake of Ibrahimovic’s injury.
And it has been pretty “unconditional” support too, with little in the way of public criticism and no threat of being dropped during his dry spell. As a consequence, Rashford has been around to score important goals and been one of the biggest catalyst in the campaign.
With his 2016/2017 season statistics, No doubt the very best is still yet to come of the teenage sensation.