Wayne Rooney: Man United youngster Marcus Rashford is an incredible talent

by Leo Nieboer

Wayne Rooney has heaped praise on Marcus Rashford, labelling the youngster as an incredible talent.

Rashford announced himself with a game-changing substitute appearance against Hull, acting as the centrepiece to a late onslaught that saw the 18-year-old net an injury time winner.

A hat-trick on his England Under 21 debut, followed by two more goals under Jose Mourinho, has led to the youngster’s reported reinstatement to England’s senior side by Sam Allardyce.

Speaking to Manchester Evening News, Rooney was quick to laud the youngster’s meteoric rise to stardom in 2016.

“Marcus is incredible,” he said.

“He was thrown in last season when we, the other players, weren’t sure he was ready. But he was thrown into the [Midtjylland] game and got two goals. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.

“I think his attitude is fantastic. He wants to work, he wants to learn and some of the younger players nowadays in football haven’t really got that attitude. It’s great to see and he’s getting his rewards for it. He has some talent and, if he keeps going, he’ll be a real star for this club and for England.”

“Of course, we encourage him but, with players like that [to play with freedom], you just want to let them play. You don’t want to teach them how to play football because they [already] can.

“You want them to play and express themselves – what you’re seeing is Marcus expressing himself and scoring goals, which is great for the team.”

“He’s a bit quicker than I was!” noted Rooney when asked to compare his 18-year-old self to Rashford.

“I think, as a young lad going in, you almost feel like there’s nothing to lose and no pressure. If you’re allowed to have moments where it doesn’t go for you, then you can have those moments everyone looks back on.

“You’re just playing football on instinct and that’s the best way to play it.”

Despite only bursting onto the spotlight back in February, Rashford has almost exhausted all superlatives when it comes to describing his astronomical ascension to worldwide recognition.

In a game clouded by recognised superstars and ready-made talents, the prominence of young, academy talents is fading at a rapid rate. Sure, youngsters will receive the odd cameo here and there, perhaps even earning a few starts. Very rarely, however, does it go beyond that: teenagers tend to perform a supportive role, rarely occupying the headlines, and even more rarely making any notable impact.

This is why the story of Rashford is so amazing: here we have an 18-year-old with the world at his feet, fearlessly morphing into the focal point of United’s attack as established superstars – like Rooney – watch on in awe.

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