At the beginning of the year, few even knew the name Marcus Rashford.
Now, five months later, anyone with a passing interest in the Premier League is very much aware of the youngster, who is about to be unleashed at the European Championship in France.
18-year-old Rashford, has had a turnaround in fortune that even Roy of the Rovers couldn’t match. There are tweets on social media summarising his last few months along the lines of: Rashford’s last 96 days: Man Utd debut, eight goals, FA Cup medal, England debut, new four-year deal, EURO 2016 team.
Which in essence sums it all up extremely well.
His new deal is well deserved and is the first thing Jose Mourinho has put in place. The teenage star has trebled his wages after signing a new deal worth £5.2million with Manchester United, which will see his salary rocket from £7,500-a-week to £25,000-a-week. The deal will take the striker through until 2020, with the option for a further year.
Rashford said: “I’m delighted to have signed a new contract. I’ve always been a Manchester United fan, so to be playing in the first team really is a dream come true. I’m grateful for having the chance to prove myself. To be able to play football at the biggest club in the world means everything to me and my family.”
Overseeing his emergence is possibly the best thing that Louis van Gaal did for the club… aside from maybe the FA Cup – although the prodigious talent will last longer than the memory of beating Crystal Palace and will ultimately give The Red Devils a new star for a few years to come.
Van Gaal had a lengthy injury list to content with back in February and no less than 13 players sidelined, including skipper Wayne Rooney. That meant that LVG had to look to the academy for cover.
And Rashford exploded on to the scene with two goals against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League, following that up with a brace on his Premier League debut against Arsenal. Suddenly everyone knew his name and his rollercoaster ride of fame has continued unabated.
No-one really expected the young player to go to the finals this month with England, but a goal on his debut and a little bit of the unexpected about him, made Roy Hodgson think again. In the end, Hodgson sacrificed a midfielder so that young Rashford could go to France.
It took just 138 seconds into his first senior international appearance to score against Australia last week, making him the youngest player to net on his England debut.
There appears to be no end to the Manchester United wonderkid’s story and next season at Old Trafford it is entirely possible that he won’t be alone, as others are in line to follow him from the academy to the first team.
For England, it remains to be seen just how much Hodgson uses the striker, but when a game is heading for a stalemate and the team need something different, something unexpected, then Rashford could be the key to unlock the opposing defence. He’ll be an unknown quantity to many countries and that could work in the Three Lions’ favour.
After a busy few months and a challenging competition in June, Manchester United will need to be careful with their young star. Like Reece Oxford at West Ham, the clubs want only the best for the players and they will have to keep their feet on the ground and avoid potential burn-out, no matter how much they want to play.
Only fate knows what’s in store for the young man, but so far it looks as though his destiny is straight to the top and beyond. Maybe he’ll even win the Euro 2016 Golden Boot!
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