Rashford is set to play against Real Sociedad in the Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday night, five years to the day after making a sensational debut for United in the same competition when he scored twice against Midtjylland as an 18-year-old.
Rashford is now an established first-team player for United and England, and has just equalled David Beckham‘s tally of 85 goals for the club. The 23-year-old has also made a huge impact off the pitch with his campaign to feed under-privileged children which has earned him an MBE.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Marcus Rashford has shown that ‘dreams can come true’ for young players at Manchester United
Rashford is set to play against Real Sociedad in the Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday
‘He’s had an incredible impact on and off the pitch,’ said Solskjaer. ‘He’s matured and grown into a real proper young man.
‘He knows what it takes to be a Manchester United player on and off the pitch. I do remember (his debut) a young little lad coming on, two nice goals and a celebration with his teammates in the stand.
‘I think he’s living proof of what we want to do at the club. When you sign for Man United, whether you’re five, six, 10, 14, you have a chance to make dreams come true and long may it continue. He’s got 10-15 years left in him.
‘Through the history of Man United we have proven and shown many times that we can develop our own, local ones, homegrown ones.
The game comes five years to the day after he scored two debut goals against Midtjylland
‘But then you sign players like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, and you make them the best in the world. Sir Alex (Ferguson) was the best at it, Sir Matt (Busby) unbelievable and, of course, we want to follow in their footsteps.’
Solskjaer believes Rashford could do no better than following Ronaldo’s example to make sure he makes the most of his career.
‘I think what he does on and off the pitch you have to be meticulous to last for a long career,’ added the United boss.
‘We’ve had the best possible example of that in world football with Cristiano. The way he has looked after himself, the way he came into the club and we all took notice the way he developed throughout his career, and the way he looked after himself is major.
Rashford has also just equalled David Beckham’s tally of 85 goals for the Old Trafford side
‘I’m sure Marcus as well is looking after himself. That’s the only way to be at the top, you can’t get distracted. If you play until you’re 35, you can do whatever you want after that.’
Solskjaer confirmed that two more rising stars at United – Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire – will be in the squad to face Sociedad. Diallo made his first appearance since a £37million move from Atalanta in last week’s 4-0 win over the Spaniards in the first-leg, while Shoretire made his debut as a substitute against Newcastle on Sunday.
However, Hannibal Mejbri – another teenager training with the first-team – has suffered an injury and United will also be without Edinson Cavani, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek for the second leg.
Solskjaer believes Rashford could do no better than following Cristiano Ronaldo’s example
‘No, they’re still out,’ said Solskjaer. ‘They’ve still not trained enough or joined in, so we’ll be more or less the same squad we had against Newcastle.
‘Amad and Shola will be involved. They’re in the squad but I’m not going to tell you if they’re starting or not. Hannibal got injured in the reserves and he’ll be out for a month. He was just coming into our squad and unfortunately he’s out.’
Solskjaer confirmed that no players have tested positive for Covid even though his senior coaching staff will be absent for a second game in a row. Some tested positive and others are self-isolating as a precaution.
‘We’ve had loads of tests since then and all the players have been negative,’ said Solskjaer. ‘The precaution we did, I think we just acted in the right time and right manner, but they won’t be with us for this game, no.’
Solskjaer confirmed Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire will be in the squad to face Sociedad