How Ronaldo made Marcus fall in love with football
Marcus Rashford pinpoints the moment he fell in love with football, and more specifically Manchester United, in the blockbuster new episode of UTD Podcast, released on all platforms today.
The date was 23 April 2003 and the Reds were hosting Real Madrid, with their full complement of Galacticos in tow, including Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Raul.
However, on a night where United ultimately bowed out of the Champions League, two things caught a five-year-old Marcus’s eye – a certain Brazilian forward and the sheer glitz and glamour of a big European night at Old Trafford.
“Ronaldo was one of my favourite players growing up,” Marcus recalls.
“He was someone I used to always watch on YouTube and stuff like that. Literally the only reason my brother took me to the game was because he was playing.
“I don’t actually remember watching the game. I just remember the lights and Old Trafford being huge and full of people.
“There was so many goals in the game, it was hectic.”
We all have our own equivalent stories of conversion, of going to the game and remembering the sights, sounds and smells of live football for the first time.
Despite witnessing a seven-goal thriller - which swung this way and that before settling at United 4-3 Madrid - and some of Europe’s most famous names in action, it was the more mundane journeys to the game that Marcus would come to really relish, helped along by his Reds-mad family.
“That was my first game,” Rashford adds.
“I already had a bond with United because of my household, it was just Man United. After going to Old Trafford, that was it, that was the only club I dreamed of playing for.
“I used to just love the whole build-up to game, getting buses and the train and there being loads of fans there. It wasn’t just the game for me, it was the build-up and the club being a family. That’s what drew me to United initially.
“Once I got involved with the club, from then on it was a no-brainer: we fit together.
“I’d trained at other clubs before that and it just wasn’t the same feeling. Of course, I enjoyed playing football, but it wasn’t the same as training at United. It was quite an easy decision.”
Almost two decades on, and with Marcus a key member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, he admits he still gets the same pre-match buzz and emotion.
However, as a player, there’s a need to control those feelings – something our no.10 has gradually learned to do over the years, from coming through the youth team to establishing himself for club and country.
“I have the same feeling but I have to find a way to control it, otherwise I’d just get loads of red cards! It gets too emotional sometimes.
“At the beginning of my career, the coaches will tell you there was times against Liverpool and City where they’ve had to take me off the pitch, they’ve had to substitute me because I used to let my emotions get the better of me and do things that weren’t in my character.
“I have to find a way to control it, but coming to the first team at such a young age and seeing how professional the players were, they showed me you have to put things aside and go on the pitch and be professional.
“That’s what I do now. I do things that make me relaxed, to settle myself down. Then I feel like I’m ready to play the game.”
Download and listen to Marcus Rashford's UTD Podcast from 17:00 GMT on Monday evening.