Marcus Rashford’s rapid rise to stardom has been nothing short of a fairytale. The story of a local boy rising through the ranks of his boyhood club, scoring a brace on his debut, and representing his country in a World Cup seems more akin to a Hollywood set than a Premier League pitch. This is indeed a part of what makes Rashford so special. Manchester United has long been known for its youth development and Rashford is the latest in a line of players living out their dream under the bright lights of Old Trafford.
Rashford was born in Manchester and joined United’s famed academy at the age of 7. He advanced through the age groups and, at 18-years-old, made his first-team debut in the Europa League. The striker’s performance earned him a Premier League start three days later against Arsenal where he again delivered a two-goal performance. Rashford finished his rookie campaign with 8 goals in all competitions, one of which being the match-winner in the Manchester Derby, and won the FA Cup.
That summer, Roy Hodgson named him in England’s Euro 2016 roster, and Rashford became the youngest Englishman to score on their international debut when he netted against Australia in a warm-up match. Since then, the boy wonder has been a fixture in and around the Manchester United starting 11.
This past season had its share of memorable moments for the United striker as well. Before the Premier League season started, he was included in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man roster for the 2018 World Cup. Rashford made five appearances for England, starting once against Belgium. He also scored in the Three Lions’ penalty-shootout victory against Colombia as his side went on to finish the tournament in fourth place.
Domestically, he finished the year as United’s third highest scorer in all competitions with 13 goals. The pick of the bunch, however, belongs to the thunderous penalty kick he scored in the dying moments of United’s second leg Champions League round of 16 match-up with PSG that put the Red Devils through on away goals.
While Rashford himself enjoyed a solid campaign last year, Manchester United’s season failed to live up to its always large expectations. The club finished in 6th place in the Premier League and failed to qualify for the Champions League. This summer will be monumental for the club as they attempt to catch up to their top 6 rivals. United’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who replaced Jose Mourinho halfway through the season, will have an entire off-season to shape the squad in his image. Rashford, of course, seems central to his plans. The 21-year-old signed a new four-year deal this summer which made him one of the top earners at the club and will keep him in Manchester until 2023. Solskjær and Rashford will be chomping at the bit this preseason to right the ship, and a strong showing from both at the ICC could do wonders for their momentum going into the new Premier League season.