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The meteoric rise of Marcus Rashford

Thursday 7th September 2017
After leading his country a step closer to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Marcus Rashford is the name on everybody's lips; and rightly so. With a goal and an assist at Wembley against Slovakia, the 19-year-old once again showed the world why he is one of the best youth prospects in world football.
Even in England's dull World Cup qualifier against Malta, Rashford was the spark. He lightened the game up after coming on at half time and even came up with an outrageous assist for Harry Kane from the halfway line. The teenager from Wythenshawe has all the abilities - pace, dribbling, passing, shooting and most importantly, a positive attitude which allows him to be a game-changer and produce moments of magic from out of nowhere.

People might remember him from the night of 26th February, wherein he made his 'dream debut', scoring twice against FC Midtjylland. Then, he replicated the same on his Premier League debut against Arsenal, scoring another brace against The Gunners. But, this was not where it all started.

It started with a boy from Wythenshawe, a city in south Manchester. A lad, whose future and aims were set. He wrote:

'I ONLY HAVE ONE DREAM IN LIFE AND THAT IS TO BE A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLER, AND HOPEFULLY AT MANCHESTER UNITED.'

And his dream was turning into reality. He joined United's academy aged seven. He would play with players aged four or five years older than him, and dazzle everyone including coaches and the players. He would play with players like Paul Pogba, far superior to him, in age and quality. And doing so, he began learning. One of his most impressive characteristics. Rashford has always ready to learn, to absorb everything that he could see, and in doing so, he became a better player.

United's academy coaches could sense something special from the beginning, due to his commitment and love for the game in general, and the club in particular. He was a sensation for almost all age groups he played in. Another key factor is that Rashford can play in almost any position across the front line.

He then finally forced his way into the U18 squad aged just 15 and as always, he impressed. This is where he developed the most; like any other footballer. He shined throughout his U18 career having scored 13 times in his final U18 year. After this, he led the United U19's in the UEFA Youth League and scored a brace in his Youth League debut too!

Then came 2016! Probably the best year of his life. No one could even think of a first-team call up for Marcus at that time; considering he was just 18 and hadn't even played for the Reserves yet, it was nothing but sensible to think that. But, fortune struck in the favour of Rashford. Rooney, Martial and back up striker Will Keane had all suffered injuries and hence, made a platform for Rashford to shine upon.
He scored two on his Europa League debut, two on Premier League debut. He then went on to live his dream and scoring 8 goals in 18 appearances that season, helping United win the FA Cup. And in this process, he earned his England call up and was included in the England squad for EURO 2016. He scored on his England debut too, becoming the youngest English player to find the back of the net for the Three Lions on debut, against Australia.

Then, he had a mixed 2016-17 season under Jose Mourinho. But, he learned and developed a lot. He played in a variety of different positions and was asked to play a vast majority of offensive as well as defensive roles. In doing so, he gained the trust of the Portuguese manager, who rewarded him with more game time than any other United player. He scored 11 goals in that campaign and valiantly led United's line during the latter stages of the season in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He was one of the most important parts of the Jose Mourinho machine that won the League Cup and the Europa League.
Rashford this season looks like a much better player. With improved physical, mental and technical abilities, the young man has started this season with a bang. He has 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 appearances for club and country this season.

He now has the world at his feet. And with his ability and temperament, he can surely grow to be one of the best footballing players of this generation.
Vedansh Nathani

Manchester United fan from Raipur, India. Follows almost all sports - football and pro-wrestling in particular. Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho are some of his favourites.


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