Rashford great moments on and off pitch on five year anniversary of Man Utd debut

You'd be hard pressed to find a fan anywhere in the country with a bad word to say about Marcus Rashford. How often can you say that about a Manchester United player?
Five years ago today, the academy prospect made his debut for the club he holds dear and has since evolved from boy to man, prospect to star and footballer to inspirational figurehead.

Rashford is now something of a national treasure for his campaigning work and those five years have been littered with outstanding achievements.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at his five best moments since February 25, 2016.

A stunning debut
United were up against it. They were staring down the barrel of a humiliating defeat in their Europa League tie against Midtjylland having lost the first leg 2-1 away from home.

Louis van Gaal's side were ravaged by injuries, 13 in total, a starry-eyed Rashford had been named in the bench but was given his big chance when Anthony Martial went down in the warm-up.

Midtjylland scored first to go 3-1 up and the situation at Old Trafford was becoming desperate.

Rashford then scored in front of the Stretford End, a simple finish followed by joyous embrace of the fans by the corner flag, back when fans in stadiums existed.

He then notched another, ghosting in behind the defence to convert his second from a floated cross and United ended up getting out of jail.

Rashford became United's youngest ever scorer in European competition, breaking a certain George Best's record.

It wasn't just the goals. His overall performance lit up the night and even prompted Cristiano Ronaldo, his idol, to say: 'I see some of myself in him for sure – he has courage and he's fast and is very good with the ball. He has an amazing future.'

The 18-year-old had arrived. The cat was out of the bag and United knew they had a special player on their hands.

Putting the old enemy to the sword
As a Manchester lad and boyhood United fan, Rashford would have fantasised about these moments.

Liverpool were the visitors to Old Trafford in March of the 2017/18 season. The Reds were in third at the time, snapping at the heels of United in second.

And Rashford came up with one of his most memorable displays in a United shirt.

His first goal was an absolute belter and not one he'll ever let England team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold forget about.

De Gea pumped a goal-kick deep into Liverpool territory and Rashford gambled on the flick-on, sprinting in behind.

That flick-on arrived perfectly in the channel for the striker to gallop on to. He still had plenty of work to do with Alexander-Arnold tight to him but a neat flick back inside completely bamboozled the defender.

Rashford took one look but and hammered a low, rising shot into the far corner, sending Old Trafford into delerium.

He then gobbled up a rebound to double his tally in a game Jose Mourinho's side went on to win 2-1.

A major trophy to put on the shelf
Unfortunately for Rashford, his rise has coincided with a difficult few years for United. The post-Sir Alex Ferguson era is only just now showing signs of recovery but successes have been few and far between.

There have been moments in games, some wonderful goals, the winner against Manchester City securing a first victory over the noisy neighbours since 2012 back in 2012 when he was still 18, for example.

But footballers are remembered for what they achieve. For that reason, United's Europa League triumph in 2017 is massive.

So far, it is the most significant piece of silverware Rashford has won, not just because the trophy itself is ludicrously oversized.

Rashford led the line for his side that night in Stockholm against Ajax. And although he couldn't register on the scoresheet, he helped United win their last piece of silverware.

United are fighting on three fronts this season and although the Premier League is looking increasingly out of reach, Rashford will be driving his side hard to end that drought in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Helping the homeless
Back in the winter of 2019, Rashford launched a Christmas box campaign to help Manchester's homeless community.

He wanted to support some of the city's major homeless refuges including Barnabus, Centrepoint, Lifeshare and Shelter.

The idea was for people to fill a shoebox full of essential items which could be given to anyone in need during the festive period.

Rashford was still just 21 at the time but showed how community-driven he is.

He said: 'Last Christmas I prepared and delivered some gifting boxes around Manchester for those in need, with the help of my family.

'It was one of the most gratifying moments of the year, so when planning activity this time around I was adamant that we would reach more people in a more effective way.

'I'm extremely proud of where I'm from. I love this city and appreciate all of the support the city has given me over the years so this is my opportunity to help out those that might not otherwise have the best Christmas.'

Rashford's charitable streak then went from regional to national when the Covid pandemic hit...

Free School Meals campaign
It takes a special kind of man, let alone footballer, to force the Government into more dizzying U-turns than the Leader of the Opposition. Yet, sadly for Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer, that's what Rashford has done.

His Free School Meals campaign was one of the rare genuinely satisfying moments of the past 12 months.

Rashford was passionate about his cause from personal experience, he knew how useful those free school meals where to low income families and how critical it is that children don't go hungry.

For a time last year, it seemed as though Rashford was the country's unofficial Prime Minister.

Johnson was as bamboozled by Rashford's campaigning as any Premier League full-back would be by his dancing feet, and the PM eventually even phoned him personally last November to say £396million of support for free school meals would be provided at Christmas.

Rashford's campaign started last June and he persuaded the Government to provide 1.3 million children with vouchers for meals, who would have been receiving them in term time but no longer had that access due to lockdown.

He saw it as a chance to give back, saying: 'Without the kindness and generosity of the community I had around me, there wouldn't be the Marcus Rashford you see today: a 22-year-old black man lucky enough to make a career playing a game I love.'

More than one million people then signed a petition started by Rashford for extra support to be given over Christmas, with 1.7 children fed as a result.

Rashford was awarded an MBE for his campaigning work but the children who have been fed are the crowning achievement of his last five year

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