In a Premier League season full of surprises, the meteoric rise of Manchester United (and now England) striker Marcus Rashford is certainly up there.
In less than four months, the young sensation has gone from playing in the Manchester United youth sides to representing hos country at the European Championships.
A slew of injuries led to Rashford making is debut in February in a Europa League game against FC Midtjylland, scoring twice in that game to instantly make a name for himself.
He has not looked back since, to the point where very few were surprised when he was called up to England manager Roy Hodgson’s provisional 26 man squad – though at the time, many expected him to be one of the three players ultimately cut.
Rashford made his first appearance for England in their recent 2-1 friendly win against Australia, scoring on his international debut as he had done for his club. Injury to Danny Welbeck had left the squad short a forward, and it seemed that the stars had aligned for the player to be named in the final 23 man panel.
Speaking to the FA website, alongside his captain for club and country Wayne Rooney, the 18 year old has revealed that he can barely believe it himself that he is now a member of the senior international squad.
“It doesn’t seem real, when you look back at it. [At Christmas] I was actually trying to work my way into [Man United’s] under-21s side and all of a sudden I appeared in the first team – you have to be ready when your chance comes.
“When I first went into the changing room and saw all of the players’ names on the back of their shirts, it didn’t seem real.
Of course, such a huge rise in reputation in a short space of time brings with it additional pressure. Fans of both England and Manchester United are expecting big things from the young striker next season, but he says he tries not to let get the pressure get to him:
“I remember going home after and speaking to my brother about it [his debut and goal against Australia], and he agreed with me – he didn’t think it was real either. That’s what it’s like until you get used to it.
I tried not to think about it too much because that’s probably where the pressure and stuff starts to get to people’s heads and affect their performance.”
The young star faces strong competition from Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge (assuming Rooney plays in midfield) – but if he does get a look in, he can be expected to grab the opportunity with both hands.