One man’s hamstring injury has turned out to be another man’s ticket to fame and glory.
The news of French striker Anthony Martial’s injury ahead of Manchester United’s second leg tie in the Europa League was a huge shock to their fans. But the bigger shock was the player Louis Van Gaal chose to play in place of the striker – 18-year-old Marcus Rashford.
Few outside the club were aware of the English youngster up until then, but after his performances against FC Midtjylland and Arsenal, Rashford has etched himself into Manchester United folklore.
The teenager made his debut for the club against Midtjylland and scored twice to fire United into the last-16 of the Europa League. He followed it up with two goals and an assist against Premier League rivals Arsenal to hand his team a hard-fought 3-2 victory on Sunday.
Born in Wythenshawe, Rashford joined Manchester United from the renowned Fletcher Moss Junior football club, following in the steps of Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck and Ravel Morrison in coming from the Didsbury to Old Trafford. The youngster rejected offers from Liverpool and Manchester City to join the Red Devils and soon became a crucial member of the club’s U-18 team.
Surprisingly, Rashford started his career as a wide midfielder and slowly adapted to his new role of a central striker under the guidance of former United academy coach Paul McGuinness. He became the top scorer for his team in the 2014-15 season with 13 goals in 25 appearances and made his debut for the reserve side in a Lancashire Senior Cup tie against Rochdale.
Rashford has played only two games for the senior squad till now and already, he has four goals and a club record to his name. Thanks to his goal against Midtjylland, he became United’s youngest goalscorer in Europe after breaking a 51-year-old record held by legendary striker George Best. Rashford also became the fourth-youngest player to represent Manchester United in the English Premier League and the second-youngest scorer for the side after Federico Macheda.
It’s still early days for the English youngster and he has a lot to prove before talk of him being the next big thing can even begin, but it is quite clear that his recent performances have made Rashford a potential candidate to end Louis Van Gaal’s striker woes.