LONDON. – It is the ultimate endorsement. The kind every young soccer striker dreams of. For Marcus Rashford, praise from Brazil legend Ronaldo has been the stuff of fantasy. Not just the seal of approval, either. The three-time World Player of the Year, widely regarded as one of the greatest hitmen of all time, revealed last year that he sees shades of himself in the Manchester United marksman.
“I see some of myself in him,” said Ronaldo.
“He has courage and he’s fast and is very good with the ball. Strikers have to be hungry to score and I see that with him. He has an amazing future.” No wonder Rashford will indeed be living the dream when he faces the five-time world champions Brazil tonight.
“I used to watch a lot of him growing up,” said the 20-year-old. All of his games, he was obviously a top player who won a lot of things in his career, so when you know he’s saying good things about you, then it really stands out.” Like Rashford, Ronaldo exploded onto the scene as a teenager, going to the 1994 World Cup with Brazil – even though he didn’t play – before joining Dutch club PSV.
In his first season there, the teenager smashed a stunning 35 goals in 36 matches. – The Mirror. He went on to carry all before him for club and country, including two titles with Real Madrid, the Cup Winners’ Cup and the Copa Del Rey with Barcelona and, of course, the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. Now 41, Ronaldo is likely to be at Wembley to see the player he speaks so highly of in the flesh. Rashford explained just why the footballing icon has played such a big part in shaping his career.
“(I’ve watched) all those clips on YouTube. My first ever game that I saw live, he was playing in it. It was at Old Trafford and I always remember it. It was in 2003. He scored a hat-trick. I was only young though. I was five. He was my brother Dwaine’s favourite player, that’s why I’ve grown up watching so much of him and his games. I think you (model yourself on players like that) naturally. When you’re young, you watch clips of the best players in the world and try to emulate them, so it just tends to happen naturally.” Asked whether he’d been aware of Ronaldo’s comments, originally made last year, Rashford went on: “Yeah, I’ve seen a few bits from him from quite a while back.
“He always played free. No matter where he was playing, he played free and went out there and expressed himself. When you do that, that’s when you play your best football.” – The Mirror.