Manchester United starlet Marcus Rashford says being named in the England squad for Euro 2016 “does not seem real”.
The 18-year-old striker was not even part of Manchester United’s Under-21 team before Christmas, but just six months later he is part of Roy Hodgson’s 23-man England squad for the European Championship.
It has been a meteoric rise from the Wythenshawe-born frontman, who was only given his chance by Louis van Gaal when Anthony Martial was injured before February’s Europa League clash with Midtjylland. He scored twice in that game – his debut – and hit another brace on his Premier League debut against Arsenal before hitting the winner against Man City and scoring a spectacular goal in the FA Cup at West Ham.
He ended the season with nine goals in 18 appearances for United and such was his rise to stardom that Hodgson called him into his 26-man training squad ahead of the Euros. And, once again he grabbed his chance with both hands after scoring after just 138 seconds of his England debut against Australia two weeks ago.
In an interview alongside Wayne Rooney, Rashford said: “I remember going home after and speaking to my brother about it, and he agreed with me – he didn’t think it was real either. That’s what it’s like until you get used to it.
“I tried not to think about it too much because that’s probably where the pressure and stuff starts to get to people’s heads and affect their performance.
“For me, I was just concentrating on playing how I’d been playing and all of a sudden the goal came. It was a good way to start.”
— MunchesFX (@Super_Munche) April 14, 2016
Rashford has admitted that England and the European Champions were not even on his mind at the beginning of the year.
“It doesn’t seem real, when you look back at it. [At Christmas] I was actually trying to work my way into [United’s] under-21s side and all of a sudden I appeared in the first team – you have to be ready when your chance comes.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about the England set-up as much because obviously at United there was a lot of games coming thick and fast so all of my focus was on those games.
“At the end of the season you hear talk and stuff, but to be here now is just amazing. For it to be in my hands to go out and help the country is an amazing feeling,” added Rashford.