MANCHESTER UNITED striker Marcus Rashford was showing so much potential aged 12 that he was thrown into train with Paul Pogba.
Pogba was five years older than Rashord, who alongside Jesse Lingard and Ravel Morrsion, was pushing for a place in Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team plans.
The striker’s talent was instantly noticed, and former academy boss Paul McGuinness recalls throwing Rashford into the “cage” to ensure his natural skill was honed.
The “cage” was an enclosed pitch with old players to ensure he maintained the “street footballer” skills that have served him so well.
McGuiness told the Manchester Evening news:“He joined us, aged eight, he’d been playing in the street with his mates, playing constantly.
“He carried on, even though he was at United, we didn’t stop him.
“He’d play with Lingard, Pogba, Ravel Morrison, it was 13-a-side and looked like a scramble, so you had to have the quick-witted skills and the techniques to survive.”
McGuinness added:“You had the future world’s most expensive footballer playing with you when you were 12, doing tricks, flicking it over heads, one-twos, drag-backs, the things he does now.
“Marcus was a privileged spectator, right next to Pogba on the pitch, learning by osmosis.”
Rashford has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks at Old Trafford, it's only 14 months since he made his first-team debut, scoring twice against FC Midtjylland.
The 19-year-old is now a full England international but things could get tricky this summer, if England Under-21s select Rashford for the European Championships.
United hope he will be able to fulfil his promise and go on to be one of the club's great striker, but McGuinness claims he was a wide player as a kid.
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McGuinness added: "He’d been a winger who’d come and play in midfield, he was all creativity and not focused on scoring goals.
“He was skinny, playing two years above himself, and had come through a growth spurt.
“We said, ‘You’re going to be tall and quick, so change your mindset.
“Instead of being the clever player, doing clever things, your focus has to be running behind the defence, he started to get it and he’s bright.”
United boss Jose Mourinho will be relying on Rashford as his main centre forward, following the long-term injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.