Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has heaped praise on Marcus Rashford for the way he was ascended through the ranks at Old Trafford in such a short space of time.
The youngster, as we all know, made an emphatic start to life in the first team, claiming four goals in his opening two games and, in the process, laying the foundations for a rise to indispensability under both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.
18 months have passed since that historic debut against FC Midtjylland and Rashford, with three major trophies under his belt, can now claim to be an established member of the United starting XI.
And Van Nistelrooy, speaking to the club’s official website, was quick to hail the 19-year-old for the progress he has made.
“I watched him playing in the Under-19s against PSV,” says Ruud. “He was a huge talent even then. It’s amazing how he has developed so far. I couldn’t imagine that he would be playing in the first team just six months after I saw that game.
“And now he has won the Europa League, too! He has experienced such a quick development and that says something about his ability to learn. That’s a good characteristic to have.”
“Now he’s made his debut for England, the key is to stay focused on football. If you can learn as quickly as he has and stay stable, then he will be an excellent player for United.”
The days of Rashford being United’s plucky, dynamic outlet – a fairytale story, above anything – are long gone. He is now just as important to Mourinho as, say, Paul Pogba. And that was unequivocally clear against West Ham United.
In fact, he was central to the power and panache of United’s attacking display. That same unyielding desire to burst forward was still there, of course, but this time with the vital accompaniment of constant reciprocation with his teammates. That only comes with experience in the first team and he got just that last season.
He doesn’t just know how to demolish opponents; he knows how to do it as part of a greater whole – and that, above anything, will be what keeps him in the starting XI under the Portuguese’s tutelage.