Marcus Rashford has risen from relative anonymity to stardom in the last year – the Manchester United teenager talks UEFA.com through debut goals and learning from Zlatan Ibrahimović.
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It is little over 12 months since a previously unknown 18-year-old by the name of Marcus Rashford shot to fame by scoring two goals on his debut for local club Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 against Midtjylland.
It was a fairy-tale introduction to the first team and an unforgettable moment for a forward who was only in the starting XI because Anthony Martial got injured in the warm-up.
"The first goal was, in terms of feelings from all my goals, the biggest in terms of emotions. It's something that can't be replaced: the first one is always going to be special to you."
The Midtjylland fixture was not Rashford's first outing in a UEFA competition however; that came five months earlier versus PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Youth League, a match in which he also struck twice. As the list below shows, the Manchester-born player has an uncanny knack of marking debuts with multiple goals.
UEFA Youth League: PSV Eindhoven 0-3 United, 15/09/15 – two goals
UEFA Europa League: United 5-1 Midtjylland, 25/02/16 – two goals
Premier League: United 3-2 Arsenal, 28/02/16 – two goals
Senior international: England 2-1 Australia, 27/05/16 – one goalUnder-21: England 6-1 Norway, 06/09/16 – three goals
"In big games, although you don't mean to do it, you have a bit more fight and determination, and it comes naturally. That's when the best players come out of their shell a bit more and start to perform. You just have to take it game by game, and the feeling that you get in the match, whether it's big or small, you have to try and recreate as often as you can and keep performing."
Rashford quickly became a regular for United, starting 18 of their last 19 fixtures in 2015/16. This season he has been used rather more sparingly, often as an impact sub, with Zlatan Ibrahimović the main man at Old Trafford. In the big Swede and Wayne Rooney, Rashford is working alongside two of the best in the business.
"It's invaluable what you can learn from them, even off the pitch, the way their mentality is. From training sometimes you learn an awful lot more than what you can learn in games, so a lot of the time I'm focusing on what they're doing in training."
Whether playing up front or wide in a 4-2-3-1, Rashford is developing rapidly. José Mourinho has been influential.
"My all-round game has improved so much over the last year. I'm doing things that I knew I could always do but wasn't doing when I was younger. Being able to do it on the pitch and show it to people is a good feeling to have.
"The people closest to me understand what I mean when I say: 'I used to think a lot of things but not be able to do it on the pitch when I was younger.' I'm able to do it now and the manager has helped me a lot with that. I'm thankful."
His impact against Midtjylland means the teenager will always hold the UEFA Europa League in high regard. Rashford and United continue their quest for the trophy, the only major European silverware the Red Devils have never won, away to Rostov on Thursday.
"If you're in it, you want to win it. We play to win trophies at this club, that's the important thing. It doesn't matter what competition it is, whether it's the Europa League or the Champions League, we're Manchester United and we'll always have a chance of winning."