Manchester United are well-known for spotting talent. So, when they first saw Marcus Rashford, they knew then had a gem. Incredibly, Marcus was just five at the time! Now 19, the striker has become a hero with goals for club and country. Big things are expected from him, not that he’s letting things go to his head…
RR: So, how are things with Jose Mourinho?
RR: You’ve become a teenage megastar, almost overnight. How’s it changed your life?
Quite a lot! The little things that maybe you used to do, you can’t do any more because you’re always in the public eye. But at the same time I think it’s important you embrace that. You know, you can’t just live your life bored, or staying at home all the time.
RR: Can you still just nip to the shops without being mobbed by fans?
It depends on the time! But sometimes I can.
RR: Can you still be a ‘normal’ teenager and hang around with your mates? Or is your life a bit more strict now?
You can at the right time, but as it goes on you learn what the right times are. If you’re feeling tired and don’t really want to go out you need to be sensible.
RR: I suppose when an opportunity like this comes up, you just need to be selfish and go for it?
RR: And getting rest is a big thing, isn’t it?
Oh yeah. My body’s still growing and developing, so I might still feel aches and pains. I’ve just turned 19, and I’m 6ft 1/2in.
RR: When you first broke through, you were still at sixth form college weren’t you… Are you still studying now?
Yeah, I was at college. I was doing BTec Sport. You get the qualifications to learn how to be a physio or anything like that.
RR: You got your first big chance under Louis Van Gaal and he has brought a number of big name young players through. How exciting was it when you knew you were going to be playing against Arsenal?
Yeah, that was amazing. He told me after the Midtjylland game that if I was fit and well that I’d be playing against Arsenal. So, I had a few days to think about it. It was different to the Midtjylland game, because I was just straight in and I didn’t have anything to think about. I didn’t feel pressure, but you feel a bit different going into the game knowing that you’re playing and you’re going to be helping the team out.
RR: How were the rest of the lads in the dressing room when you were in there for the first time? Do you see them as big stars, or just normal guys?
At first you see them as the people everyone else sees them as. So, it was a bit strange being around them every day at the start. For me, growing up, Rooney and Ronaldo were my heroes – along with every other United kid. So, at first, to be in the dressing room with Wayne and the first team was a bit strange!
RR: You’re from Wythenshawe, aren’t you? We remember City hijacking things and saying there are more City fans in Wythenshawe than United…
There aren’t more City fans anywhere!
RR: You’ve scored lots of important goals already, but which have been your favourites?
I think City away. The Midtjylland game, too. And Arsenal was a big game as well. But probably City.
RR: Were you surprised you got the opportunity to play in those games?
They came along quite quickly, didn’t they… It was fast. It’s important in those kind of games that you get your first touch early – your first dribble or shot. If you get it in early, it kind of sets the tone for the game. But sometimes when you’re playing in the middle, as centre forward, it’s difficult to get that touch on the ball. But, if you get that early touch it gives you confidence. Some people just have that instinct, where they might not be in the game at all and then they score a goal. But for me, I have to work my way into the game.
RR: So does it help almost being out towards the wing for you, as part of a front three?
Well, I’ve played on the wing in the past. I’m not the kind of striker where I’ve only played as No.9. Actually, I’d not played No.9 until a year to 18 months ago. So, for me, when I’m a No.9, I naturally drift into a wider position.
RR: Which do you prefer? Winger or No.9?
No.9, for sure. It’s easier to get your shot off or get in and around the goals. For me, it’s easier to assess what’s going on from the middle as well. But, at the same time, when you understand the game from different areas, it’s then not an issue to play out wide. That’s what the case is with me, because I’ve played wide when I was younger.
RR: How’s it going with Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Some of his finishing is just breathtaking isn’t it?
Yeah. I’m definitely picking things up from him, too. The main thing he’s taught me is how to hold the ball up. It’s different to how I might hold the ball up. He’s more physical. He uses his body a lot more. But he’s a lot stronger than I am at the moment. He’s very strong! But you pick up on little things and try to feed them into your own game – and you do that with all players, not just ones in your position. Think about the goal that Zlatan scored out of nowhere in the first game of the season. You know, I maybe wouldn’t have shot in that position. But as you grow, you do start to learn, have a go and take those opportunities.
RR: Were you naturally good at sport, or was it something you had to work on?
I’ve been playing football for as long as I can remember. My brothers used to tell me I could do stuff that I can’t even remember when I was very young. Simple things, like kick-ups. I remember one of my very first games and I couldn’t have told you what a through ball was at the time, but I was doing it and playing those passes. I was only about four or five then.
RR: So how did you get spotted by United?
I was five when I got spotted.
RR: You’re kidding!
No! I was playing for a team – Fletcher Moss. I think I went to my first session at the development centre when I was six. Then, you don’t sign until you’re nine. So you play for three years. There were about 50 of us. When you’re nine there’s a cut, and there were then 30 of us. Then there are more and more cut-offs until there was only four or five of us left. I still have the squad photo of us from when we were nine and you see the amount of kids that have gone. But then you might hear about some of them who are having good careers at clubs lower down, and that’s a good feeling for us and I’m sure the staff here get a boost from that.
RR: You talk about Rooney and Ronaldo being influences on you growing up. I’ve seen you do Ronaldo-style step-overs. Do you try to emulate your heroes?
It’s not something that you think about like that. I think when you’ve watched something in a competitive game, you might start to do it yourself. But you do things without really thinking about it. It’s the same thing with finishing. When I first started playing as No.9, I used to watch the same videos over and over again. Sometimes you learn faster if you watch, then try to put the movements into action. I watched a lot of Thierry Henry when I moved into the middle.
RR: We remember Arséne saying once that Thierry lived like a monk. On the other hand, there’s the temptation to go out and spend lots of money and so on. Do you feel that sort of angel and devil on your shoulder?
Absolutely. But you have to go and find the right balance. I don’t think you can tuck yourself away for your whole career. If you’re not yourself all the time, then it’s not a good thing. A footballer has a lot of sacrifices to make. Don’t get me wrong I love playing football but you have to work hard and people don’t always see that.
RR: Do you practise on your own? You hear stories about Eric Cantona who used to go out after training and hit free-kick after free-kick…
Yeah. It’s hard when games are coming thick and fast, because you need the time to rest. But when there aren’t as many games there are quite a few of us who do that. Sometimes it’s good to do things on your own, but when there’s a group of a few of you, you might mirror the way other people are doing things as well and learn.
RR: What part of your game do you think you need to work on?
I think I need to make my overall game stronger. It’s little things like my running ability. I can run strong for 60-70 minutes, but am working to get my full running power for the full 90 minutes.
RR: It was like in the 0-0 against Liverpool, when you cramped after about 70 minutes… How was the feeling after that game, by the way? We nearly nicked that one…
Obviously, we weren’t happy. You want to win every game. But, at the same time, everyone was understanding that it’s a good point to have come away with. When you worked as hard as we did, you feel satisfied that you plan worked. Obviously, it would have been great to get a goal, though.
RR: Ander Herrera recently said that the great thing about working with Jose Mourinho is that you have absolutely no doubt at all what it is he wants you to do during a match. Is that what it
feels like for you?
Yeah, that’s spot on. And no one thinks differently to his plan. No one thinks their way is a better way. That’s a really important factor for us to be successful. I mean, he was won one or two things!
RR: Do you have any superstitions or rituals?
No. None at all.
RR: What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to autograph?
Some people have asked me to sign their phone — the front bit which is strange!