Marcus Rashford opens up about Wayne Rooney’s influence at Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Marcus Rashford has opened up about Wayne Rooney‘s influence as captain at Manchester United, pointing towards the captain’s experience as an important galvanising factor in the dressing room.

Rooney was handed the Man United captaincy by Louis van Gaal following Nemanja Vidic’s move to Inter Milan back in 2014.

Several reports have claimed that the 31-year-old, now a sporadic presence in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI, will leave Old Trafford over the summer.

And Rashford, writing for The Players Tribune, was quick to point towards the Englishman’s role in his development over the past year.

“I know the comparisons that have been made between the two of us,” he said. 

“I know the expectations that people have of me. For me, I’m just focused on improving my game however I can. And being around Wayne and training with him has been massive for that.

“He speaks to me a lot about the game — the positions he’s been in, the situations he’s had to deal with. I first met Wayne after my debut for United. He was injured at the time, but he came into the changing room after the game, walked straight up to me and said congratulations.

“It may seem like a small thing, but it wasn’t. It meant a lot to me. And honestly, that’s how it’s been with Wayne. He’s just a really relaxed guy. ‘Just go out and play’ he’ll tell me. ‘Don’t feel nervous. Play your own game and feel free on the pitch.’

“And that’s Wayne. You’re not necessarily going to get a big speech. But he’s been through so much that he knows exactly what’s needed at the time.”

I strongly advise you to read the entirety of Rashford’s column if you haven’t already. What you find is a tale that starts with the teenager beginning his footballing life exactly how I – and presumably how many of you – did: wearing an England shirt with ‘Rooney 9’ on the back, playing football with your friends on a rough patch of grass, pretending inside that you really were Rooney himself, decimating all that came before you.

Then there comes an important difference: while we all kept on half dreaming and half coming to terms with the fact that, actually, maybe playing for United isn’t a feasible career choice, Rashford went on to not just play with Rooney, his childhood hero, but actively push him out of the starting XI. Labelling this as ‘the stuff of dreams’ doesn’t quite cut.

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