Marcus Rashford’s rise from apparent obscurity to becoming England’s all-time youngest debutant goalscorer has been nothing short of remarkable. He broke into the Manchester United first-team in February, scoring twice in both his full debut and his Premier League debut, and three months later he was named in England’s Euro 2016 squad.
The 18-year-old scored scored three minutes into his international debut against Australia in a pre-tournament friendly, yet his inclusion was a surprise to many people. In all fairness, Rashford probably wouldn’t even have been considered for the squad had the likes of Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain not been injured.
The immediate future of English football is uncertain following Roy Hodgson’s resignation, but there is no question that Rashford has a golden future and can hold his head up high after his astonishing progress and some positive performances in France.
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What was the plan?
Louis van Gaal and Man United were reliant on the teenager for goals towards the back-end of last season, but there was never going to be any real pressure on his shoulders at the Euros – or so we thought.
Premier League top scorer Harry Kane, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and a fully fit Daniel Sturridge were expected to carry the weight of England’s goalscoring responsibility. Meanwhile, Rashford was ecstatic just to be learning and gaining experience at such a high level, never mind getting some playing time.
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Rashford’s Euro 2016
The young man’s first appearance of Euro 2016 came as a 73rd minute substitute against Wales as Hodgson went in desperate search of a winning goal. He was fearless, direct, produced some classy touches and was on the pitch to celebrate Sturridge’s dramatic late winner.
In the embarrassing defeat to Iceland, Rashford was a genuine contender for England’s Man of the Match even though he only played four minutes. The teenager showed endeavour, he actually squared up to defenders and ran at them, and he looked willing to take risks on the ball - unlike every other England player.
The United striker looked more threatening and dangerous in his brief cameo than Kane looked in the entire tournament and he should be very proud of his efforts. Many disgruntled fans have gone as far as to say that he might've affected the overall result had he been on the pitch for longer:
What’s next for Rashford?
Looking ahead to the 2016-17 campaign, Rashford could form part of a potentially devastating attacking force under new United manager Jose Mourinho.
20-year-old star Anthony Martial finished last season as the club’s top scorer with 17 goals, whilst the FA Cup winners are also close to striking deals for Borussia Dortmund playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan and world-class centre-forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
With forwards set to return to fitness over the next few months, he will have to continue scoring goals for Man United in order to keep his England place for the 2018 World Cup qualification games. That said, with eight goals in 18 appearances for the Red Devils so far, including winners against Arsenal and Manchester City, that is something Rashford looks very capable of doing.
How will Rashford get on for club and country next season? Leave YOUR opinion in the comments box below?