When you look at what Marcus Rashford has accomplished for Manchester United, it’s hard to believe that he was once determined to make it as a holding midfield player.
Marcus Rashford has quickly developed into one of the most exciting young forwards in world football, with 75 United goals to his name at the age of 23, but that wasn’t always his plan.
According to United’s U18 coach Neil Ryan, who worked with Rashford at U12 and U13 level, the Red Devils’ current No. 10 wanted to play in a completely different role for his boyhood club.
“Marcus at under-12s and 13s was fantastic, but he was up against older boys,” Ryan told the Athletic.
“You didn’t feel that it was all effortless, like it was with Ravel Morrison, but Marcus’ attitude always stood out with his talent. Yet at 14, he had a confidence crisis.
“He wanted to be a holding midfielder and I remember speaking to his mother and brothers. He talked about wanting to be on the ball more. He didn’t have the pace then to burn past others because he was still growing, but we always thought he’d be a forward.”
As Rashford matured, he was eventually convinced to embrace his natural ability to trouble defenders with his improving pace and power.
Rashford is now one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s teamsheet and typically plays off the left side of whatever attacking triumvirate is selected by the United manager.
And while creating chances and scoring goals is his remit when he takes to the pitch nowadays, Rashford had a defensive mind when he first started coming through the United ranks.
In fact, before he expressed a desire to play in the holding midfield role, Rashford toyed with the idea of becoming a goalkeeper and even named former United shot-stopper Tim Howard as his idol.
“My first season, I went in net,” Rashford told The Sunday Times of his time playing for youth club Fletcher Moss Rangers. “The thrill of scoring a goal, you get that same thrill when you save a good chance.
“Tim Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt. You watch, there’ll be a game … I’m going to get the gloves one day!”