Manchester United stand-in skipper Michael Carrick admitted Marcus Rashford’s eye-catching senior debut on Thursday made him think back fondly to when he made his own bow.
Eighteen-year-old forward Rashford was drafted into the starting line-up against FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford as a late replacement for the injured Anthony Martial and scored twice as United won 5-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate to set up a mouth-watering Europa League last 16 meeting with Liverpool.
Carrick, now 34 and who played in an unaccustomed centre-back role on Thursday night, got his introduction to senior football as a teenager with West Ham in 1999 and Rashford’s debut put him in nostalgic mood.
“It’s great. You can’t put a price on that for the younger lads, especially Marcus. It’s incredible and brings back memories for me, (of) when I made my debut,” Carrick told MUTV.
“It’s what football’s all about and what this club has been about for so long.
“For a local lad to do that and come through the system like that, I’m delighted for him.”
Rashford proved something of a saviour for United with his composed finishes in the 64th and 75th minutes.
Prior to that, the hosts had been facing the possibility of a humiliating exit at the hands of their Danish opponents, who built upon their 2-1 lead from the first leg as Pione Sisto opened the scoring in the 27th minute.
Soon after, Nikolay Bodurov’s own goal made it 3-2 on aggregate, and Juan Mata then blew the chance to level the tie, seeing his penalty saved just before half-time.
There were further glaring misses from United after the break, but Rashford’s double then gave them the aggregate lead before an Ander Herrera penalty and Memphis Depay strike wrapped things up towards the end.
Depay has had a troubled campaign following his big-money move to United last summer, but he was one of their best players on Thursday.
Boss Louis van Gaal said of his fellow Dutchman: “I’m very happy for him – he played fantastic, and he needs these kind of matches.
“Maybe it’s a turning point for him, you never know. I hope it, with all my heart.”
And Carrick added of the 22-year-old forward: “That’s the standard Memphis has set now.
“We know the ability he’s got and we’re really pleased for him. He’s been training well and he’s had his ups and his downs. It’s not easy to come in as a young lad, with all the expectation and everything that comes with playing for this club, but hopefully this can kickstart him and give him a lot of confidence.
“I thought he was terrific all night and showed what he’s capable of, so now it’s up to him to do that consistently on a week-to-week basis and I’m sure he can do that.”