“It is not like you’re saving yourself for anything. You’ve got three games of your season. What are you saving Rashford for?’
If you are good enough, you are old enough.
It has been proven time and again, especially in international football that age is no barrier to success.
Glorious, international tournament success.
With extreme youth comes a unique fearlessness that enables a freedom of play that strikes fear into opponents and emboldens teammates with the magic elixir of belief. Ask Wayne Rooney.
In 1958, a 17 year-old Brazilian called Edson Arantes Do Nascimento burst onto the international scene at the Sweden World Cup & scored 6 goals in 4 matches, one in the Quarter-Finals, 3 in the Semis & two in the Final to fire his country to glory.
Closer to home and the modern era, an 18 year-old Michael Owen terrorised Argentina in the France 98 World Cup Quarter Final having notched against Romania and scored an absolutely phenomenal goal rated England’s 3rd best ever:
And England Captain Wayne Rooney was a 18 year-old teenage sensation at Euro 2004 scoring 4 goals in 4 games, holding briefly the record of youngest ever Euros scorer and named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament
England are blessed with strikers this tournament from The Premier League’s twin top guns Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, who competed for both The Premier League crown and Golden Boot scoring 49 goals between them.
Yet in the three games so far in France, England have only scored 3 times – once against Russia, a direct Eric Dier free-kick and twice against Wales through Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge.
The Three Lions only truly came alive when Marcus Rashford came on in the 73rd minute against Wales for the tidy yet ineffective Adam Lallana making a dangerous front five of Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney & Dele Alli.
Operating from a left-sided forward position, Rashford injected an urgency, pace and directness that visibly buoyed his England teammates.
He was taken to the tournament ostensibly as a striker yet he has the all round ability and pace to make a difference for England from the left wing cutting in although Paul McGuiness, his Manchester United youth coach until February advises:
“He wasn’t goal obsessed,” he said. “He would play up front but he was always wanting to be the clever number 10.
“Someone with that much ability and speed is wasted doing that.
“It happened with Cristiano Ronaldo. When he first came he was all tricks and stepovers and show. Then he started to realise that goals got you all the attention. And he changed didn’t he? He started to score headers. He saw what could happen if he changed to a striker’s mentality.”
Rashford could do a job on the left certainly as the left of a trident with Jamie Vardy central and Daniel Sturridge right but his 8 goals in 17 games for Manchester United suggest a major goal-scoring Destiny in his own right.
“Written in the Stars” was how his debut goal for Man Utd against Midtjylland was described in The Europa League as he bagged a brace & became The Red Devils’ youngest ever scorer in Europe beating George Best’s long-held record.
Three days later when he scored two & set one up versus Arsenal, the Old Trafford faithful chanted ‘Who Are You?’ to the travelling Gunners and also themselves before he repeated the trick at The Etihad with a goal past Joe Hart.
Again at West Ham in The FA Cup 6th Round, he came on a substitute and scored a quite brilliant goal, arcing a ball into the top corner and proved the catalyst in rescuing the Red Devil’s season and winning The FA Cup.
Any doubts as to whether he could do it at international level evaporated when virtually his first touch in an England shirt on his debut at The Stadium of Light against Australia was a goal.
Clearly Marcus Rashford is the real deal whose rise to prominence not even the Panini sticker album anticipated and whose Three Lions selection could transform the lead of England into the gold of European Champions.
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