Europa League final is Rashford’s big moment
With Ibra out, Man United counting on teenage striker to fire them to Europa League glory
|AJAX AMSTERDAM||MAN UNITED|
He announced his arrival on the big stage with two goals on his first-team debut for Manchester United last year.
Marcus Rashford's brace in the 5-1 win over Midtjylland in the Europa League Round-of-32 second leg on Feb 25 last year gave United fans plenty to cheer about.
He became the new United wonderkid playing for one of the biggest and richest football clubs in the world.
But the 19-year-old doesn't use that as an excuse to have a fancy haircut, an elaborate goal celebration or show off the latest luminous pink boots.
Ahead of tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Europa League final against Ajax at the Friends Arena here in Stockholm, the United academy graduate told the Telegraph he prefers to stick to his roots.
BLACK BOOTS ONLY
He said: "Growing up here at Manchester United, there was a black-boot-only policy.
"I think it might have only just gone, but from being a kid here at nine years old, there has always been that.
"At the start, you don't really buy into it but, by the end, you learn to love it as well. I will probably always wear them.
"Nowadays with sponsorships, it is a case of, 'These are the boots, you wear them', and there is not much you can do about it.
"However, if it was my choice, it would always be black."
“Marcus is trustable... A kid that finishes a training session and stays half an hour more every day to take free-kicks...”Man United manager Jose Mourinho, on Rashford
By keeping the colour of his boots, Rashford is also making a conscious effort to keep his feet on the ground.
And it has served him well.
After Anthony Martial's injury gave him that unexpected debut against Midtjylland, Rashford went on to have a watershed season.
The 1.80m-tall striker also scored twice in a 3-2 win over Arsenal on his Premier League debut and became the youngest scorer in a Manchester Derby in the EPL era in a 1-0 win over Manchester City on March 20.
On the international scene, Rashford was the youngest Englishman to score on his international debut with the opening goal in the 2-1 triumph over Australia, as he ended the season with nine goals in 24 games for club and country.
The arrival of Swede superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Pragmatic One Jose Mourinho, who often prefers established names over youth, seemed to spell trouble for the teenager.
With Ibrahimovic firing on all cylinders this season, Rashford was shunted out wide.
After netting four times in the first two months of the season, the goals dried up for three months before he scored twice against Reading in the FA Cup in a 4-0 triumph.
He went on to play key roles in Europe, as he was equally involved in scoring and creating all four goals in the last two rounds against Anderlecht and Celta Vigo, earning praise from the notoriously hard-to-please Portuguese.
With Ibrahimovic out for the season, Mourinho will be counting on Rashford to deliver the goals against Ajax tomorrow morning. Much is at stake as the winners will qualify for the Champions League.
"Marcus is trustable," Mourinho told MUTV just what he sees in Rashford and why he is now a regular set-piece taker.
"He's a 19-year-old kid, but he's a 19-year-old kid in love with football.
"A kid that finishes a training session and stays half an hour more every day to take free-kicks and to wait for the opportunity.
"He works, he works, he works. He's very mature and let's forget the age because what matters is not age but the quality.
"Because he's so young, he's able to keep developing that day after day; he's always with one of the assistant coaches trying to make it even better.
"He is training a lot, he trains, he practises, he enjoys the work, he enjoys the extra work."
Expect more praise from Mourinho if Rashford fires the Red Devils into the Champions League.