Manchester United is a club steeped in some of the richest history around, especially the link between youth and success, exemplified by the ‘Class of 92’ and the rapid development of one Cristiano Ronaldo.
While the likes of Giggs, Beckham, Scholes et al have carved their own places in United folklore, the latter has laid down an indelible mark on the game itself.
Ronaldo’s exposure as a little known Portuguese teenager at Old Trafford thrust him into the limelight and provided a platform for a virtually unparalleled career in terms of individual goals, accolades and team trophies.
Rashford inspired by Ronaldo
A hard act for anyone to follow, but the CR7 brand is an inspiration for countless footballers and especially youngsters breaking through at the top level, including one Marcus Rashford.
Although the current United star, 18, was just an 11-year-old youth teamer when the three-time Ballon d’Or winner left Old Trafford, he recently had this to say of his hero.
Rashford said: “The thing that impressed me the most was the fact he (Ronaldo) was only young when he came into the side and he wanted to be the best player in the side.
“He worked hard every single day, you saw him in the gym every single day and the results came on the pitch. He openly wanted to be the best player in the world.”
The latest great hope off the Red Devils conveyor belt has already been on an incredible journey, which only really began last February when thrown into Europa League and Premier League action by Louis van Gaal, with instantaneous results.
A meteoric rise
An almost inconceivable few months followed where goals flew in for United. Things quickly escalated (as if they needed too?) with a strike on his senior England debut before Roy Hodgson granted Rashford two cameos for the Three Lions at Euro 2016.
Early into a new campaign, many adoring Mancunians and the wider football public would have expected the teenage sensation to have picked up where he left off and begun at least one of Manchester United’s first five games, especially after scoring from the bench at Hull to nick the points.
However, it would appear that Jose Mourinho is keeping Rashford a little more honest, so far preferring to introduce him from the bench, while keeping faith with the likes of Anthony Martial, who cost just shy of £40m.
Ball is in Mourinho’s court
Understandable perhaps, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s best move with Ronaldo was to tell him he was good enough and then let the then 18-year-old loose on the pitch from the off.
The present Real Madrid superstar started 15 of 29 Premier League appearances in his debut 2003/04 campaign and has always hailed Fergie as the most influential coach in his sparkling career.
Rumour has it that Mourinho will hand Rashford a first start of the season when his team travel to Feyenoord in the Europa League next.
If the youngster is to go on to hit anywhere near the heights his United role model has, then this must be the first of many this season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.