Antony Martial was the one supposed to lead the line when Manchester United took on FC Midtjylland in the second leg of the Europa League round of 32 tie on February 25, 2016. However, the Frenchman got injured before kick-off at Old Trafford that night and in came an unknown Marcus Rashford.
The then-18-year old took his chance, scored a fantastic brace in a 5-1 win and the United Academy graduate has never looked back since then.
If there’s anything to prove that Rashford has made progress in the red half of Manchester, just take a look at the different jersey numbers he’s worn. From the number 39 which isn’t usually popular for a first team player to the number 19 shirt which showed he was very much part of the set-up at Old Trafford.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) August 5, 2018
And even bigger is that Rashford will be wearing the number 10 shirt ahead of the new season. It was spotted on him in Man United’s final pre-season game against Bayern Munich with fans and coach Jose Mourinho approving of him wearing it. The Portuguese was quoted saying after the game:
“He always wanted it. Of course, he respected the big Rooney and then Zlatan wanted to have it. Of course, he was in the shadow, waiting for the opportunity and now the shirt is empty. It’s something fantastic for the kid, let’s give the shirt to him.”
The excitement of seeing Rashford wear an iconic number that was dawned by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Teddy Sherringham and Mark Hughes, is only a testament of the fine player and prospect he is, still only 20.
Marcus Rashford is Man Utd's new number 1⃣0⃣
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) August 6, 2018
With 32 competitive goals to his name, Rashford has been able to break into the England national team with exposure in two international tournaments (Euro 2016 and 2018 World Cup), under his belt.
That’s pretty much a very rapid way to rise in such a short space of time. Rashford has done well to earn the reward of wearing the number 10 jersey because of his focus, determination and diligence. He took his chance from the very moment he stepped onto the field and never lost sight of that opportunity. No wonder he has been a favourite under two managers (Louis van Gaal and Mourinho) with deferring approaches to the game.
Another fact is that Rashford has been able to adapt to every situation he has found himself in. Though a natural striker, his role has been reduced to playing on the flanks because of the bigger names that have been ahead of him. It would be impossible for the youngster to be ahead of the likes of Ibrahimovic or Romelu Lukaku but he’s never sulked about it but has rather taken on the challenge.
📅 June 2005
👶 Joins @ManUtd academy.
📅 Nov 2015
🔥 Called up to 1st team.
📅 Feb 2016
⚽ Scores on @ManUtd debut.
📅 May 2016
🏆 Wins @EmiratesFACup.
📅 May 2017
🇪🇺 Wins @EuropaLeague.
📅 Aug 2018
👕 Given the No. 10 shirt.
— SPORF (@Sporf) August 5, 2018
This probably explains why Mourinho favours Rashford over Martial who has had the habit of not giving his 100% once the spotlight isn’t on him. Mou has been known not be in favour of youth but for him to rate a 20-year old Rashford so highly and give the number 10 shirt is simply astonishing.
Marcus Rashford might continue to play a support role at Manchester United this season but with many years still ahead of him and with his diligence continuing to pay dividends, the Wythenshawe born-forward could very well be on his way to legendary status as he progresses.
How do you see Marcus Rashford performing in the famous number 10 shirt for Manchester United? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Photo credit: Getty Images