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Marcus Rashford

English football's happy accident - Marcus Rashford ready to fulfil Rooney potential

4:10 PM GMT+4 30/08/2017
Marcus Rashford, Manchester United
The teenager has gone from a complete unknown to the great hope of a nation and this week is ready to begin filling some very big boots

He didn’t even have a Wikipedia page.

A complete unknown to everyone outside Manchester United’s setup, only an injury crisis in November 2015 saw an 18-year-old Marcus Rashford make the bench for a Europa League clash with FC Midtjylland.

Even then, he wasn’t supposed to actually play. But when Anthony Martial aggravated a hamstring in the warm-up, coach Louis Van Gaal was out of options.

In an age with more football on live TV than ever before, where adolescents become millionaires before even kicking a ball in the professional game, we know more about football’s youngsters than ever before.

If you haven’t heard of him, it’s usually because he’s not really any good. But one cold night at Old Trafford, Rashford stepped forward as one of the great anomalies of the modern era, and may well go on to be English football’s happiest accident.

That night, a local lad came good. It was Roy of the Rovers stuff as the teenager scored twice. Some wondered if it was a merely a quirk, asking if five years from now he’d be little more than a curious answer to questions in pub quizzes.

But a few days later, they wondered no more. Rashford proved himself the real deal as he hit another two against Arsenal, becoming only the fourth Man Utd player to hit a brace on his Premier League debut. He scored four goals from his first five attempts on goal in professional football.

The records continue to come. He has scored on his European, Premier League, League Cup and England (Senior and U21) debuts. He’s the youngest scorer in a Manchester derby in Premier League history (18 years, 141 days) and the youngest Englishman to start a major European final since Gary Mills for Nottingham Forest in 1980 (at 19 years, 205 days).

Not since Rashford’s former Man Utd colleague Wayne Rooney has an English footballer exploded onto the scene with such gusto.

It’s been a meteoric rise that has continued this season. This past weekend Rashford arrived off the bench to break the deadlock against Leicester City within three minutes of his introduction, netting with his only attempt of the afternoon.

Rashford has now scored 2.5 per cent of all of Man Utd’s substitute goals in Premier League history.

Fellow substitute Marouane Fellaini would add a second against Leicester, but it was Rashford’s strike that truly won the game.

Of all English forwards, only Rooney has thus far earned a Sure Pressure Index score this season comparable to serial match-winner Rashford, who has now scored the game-winning goal in six of the 10 Premier League games in which he’s scored.

This weekend he will be asked to prove he can not only carry the hopes of a nation as he returns to international duty with England, but to go on to become the world-beater many had hoped Rooney would be.

The Three Lions face Malta and Slovakia this week in World Cup qualifying, in what will be their first matches since England's all-time record goalscorer Rooney announced his international retirement.

Attentions will once again turn to English football’s new wonderkid. And with the World Cup just one year away, the Rashford name is now ringing out from Wythenshawe to Timbuktu.

The Sure Pressure Index

No one has ever been able to measure Premier League pressure... Until now!

Posted by Goal.com on Monday, August 7, 2017

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