The meteoric rise of Marcus Rashford has been one of the biggest footballing stories of the year, and now with the teenager included in England’s Euro 2016 squad, the sky’s the limit for the boy from Wythenshawe.
The unknown 18-year-old forward made his debut for the club on February 25, starting in the crucial Europa League second-leg tie against FC Midtjylland. With United trailing from the first leg, the game at Old Trafford was crucial for Louis van Gaal’s side.
Rashford was named on the bench, but with Anthony Martial picking up a knock during the warm-up, he was given the nod to start.
In the space of 12 minutes in the second half, he scored twice, becoming United’s youngest goalscorer in Europe, and helping United to rally to a 5-1 victory over the Danish side, and by doing-so became a household name overnight.
The teenage dream continued when he made his Premier League debut the following weekend against Arsenal, and once again scored two goals as United beat the Gunners 3-2.
The youngster hasn’t looked back since; he went onto score marvellous goals against Manchester City in the bitter Manchester derby, and against West Ham in the FA Cup.
What was most evident about Rashford, apart from his unquestionable natural talent, was how cool and calm he’s been in high-pressure matches and hostile environments.
It’s for this reason that on May 16, Roy Hodgson named him in his provisional 26-man England squad for Euro 2016.
Despite being selected, it was the general consensus among fans that Rashford was only there for the experience, and wasn’t in the run-in to make the final squad.
It was only a few days later that he won the FA Cup with his club, playing 72 minutes in an overall drab match, which was eventually won thanks to a goal by Rashford’s good friend and teammate, Jesse Lingard.
Days later, Rashford became England’s youngest ever debut goalscorer, when he started in the match against Australia and scored within 3 minutes.
And now, having made the 23-man squad for the tournament, Rashford can show the European stage what he can do.
However, it’s still generally considered that he won’t play a big role for England in France, and I imagine Hodgson will use him sparingly.
But he could become England’s secret weapon during Euro 2016, with many teams and managers not knowing too much about the young forward. It may also take a while for Hodgson and the England set-up to really work out how to best utilise him.
In the meantime, it’s always great to see an exciting young player break into the international scene. Is it perhaps worth backing him to score at anytime in England’s first match against Russia?