Marcus Rashford

Club: Manchester United

Country: England

What connects Rashford with Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton and Vincent Kompany?

Other than being among the greatest figures in the history of Mancunian football, all have been handed honorary degrees by the University of Manchester. Yet while that illustrious trio were handed theirs at the end of long and fruitful careers in the city, Rashford received his this summer. He is 22 years old, the youngest-ever recipient of the award.

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford celebrates with Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (back) after he scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on September 26, 2020. 

Of course, this wasn’t really supposed to happen. If Rashford had been told this time last year, that in 12 months he would be being hailed as a hero across England, he would be forgiven for assuming that it had something to do with the European Championship.

But then coronavirus happened, and the tournament was put on ice.

Instead, Rashford’s summer has seen him become a hero off the pitch. To recap, he teamed up with charity FareShare, committed to supporting children unable to access free meals while schools are closed. He then
turned campaigner, putting pressure on the government to continue to provide food vouchers for children who need it, and eventually forcing an embarassing U-turn.

For the young forward, it was a personal issue – he himself had grown up relying on free school meals, and after the decision he said on Twitter: “I stand proud today knowing that we have listened, and we have done what is right.The wellbeing of our children should ALWAYS be a priority.”

With all that going on, he could have been forgiven for taking his eye off the ball, but he thrived when the Premier League returned. Just as he has become a leader off the pitch, so he has on it, taking Mason Greenwood under his wing as the pair have formed two thirds of a deadly attack alongside Anthony Martial.

When asked about leaders in United’s dressing room on the High Performance podcast, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “You have had an example lately in Marcus Rashford – what kind of human being he is, but also a leader. He stepped forward on and off the pitch. He took his first penalty for Man. United ever, added time, PSG, Champions League and he scored it. Marcus is a leader.”

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United at American Express Community Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Brighton, England. 

The boyhood fan looks likely to be a star of Old Trafford for years to come. Gossip linking him with Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona need not be taken seriously, at least not for now.

As for his dreams of being a Euro 2020 hero, they are still very much intact. A year later than planned, giving another season to grow, it could work out perfectly for Rashford.

Article by Jamie Evans