It has been a swift and remarkable rise to prominence for Marcus Rashford, the boyhood Manchester United fan who has lived out his dream of playing professional football for the Red Devils.
Rashford scored twice on his debut in 2016 in the oft-maligned Europa League against FC Midtjylland, who operate in the relative obscurity of Danish football, and has barely looked back or stopped for breath since. A highly successful 2016 saw him nominated for the prestigious Golden Boy award – he finished runner up to Portuguese sensation Renato Sanches.
The goals against FC Midtjylland made him the youngest player to score for Manchester United in European competition – a record previously held by one of the sport’s all time greats, George Best. Later the same year, Rashford scored the winner in the Manchester derby against noisy neighbours Manchester City – and at just 18 years and 141 days became the youngest ever scorer in the Manchester derby in the Premier League era.
Perceived by many as a humble local boy, a letter that Rashford wrote when he was just 11-years-old laid bare his ambition to play for Manchester United, and, particularly endearingly, make his family proud.
The letter, which the young striker posted a photo of on Twitter, reads:
“I hope that my future is very bright in and out of school especially in my career as a footballer. I want to have a different lifestyle and make my family and others proud of me. I ONLY HAVE ONE AIM IN LIFE AND THAT IS TO BE A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLER, AND HOPEFULLY AT MANCHESTER UNITED.”
It is hard not to feel pleased for Rashford, certainly one of the more likeable and down-to-earth characters in football, and it is inspiring to see the dreams of an 11-year-old boy being played out in front of you on the television screen, week in, week out.
Having netted an impressive five goals in 11 appearances last year for United, it is true that the striker’s production has dropped somewhat this term; he has returned just four goals in 25 games this year – though he has often been used off the bench and deployed on the wing rather than in his preferred role as an out and out striker.
United manager Jose Mourinho has stood by his man during the difficult second season Rashford has endured, but will be counting on the youngster to hit a run of form sooner rather than later – Manchester United looked toothless going forward during Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s recent three match ban, and it is surely a damning indictment of the team that a 35-year-old, however prodigal his talents, is having to carry a club of the stature of Manchester United.