Marcus Rashford has been in love with Brazilian football since the age of five and based his game on the fearless forward play of Ronaldo.
“He was my brother’s favourite player — that’s why I’ve grown up watching so much of him and his games,” he said, with a nod of thanks to sibling Dwaine.
“It’s all those clips on YouTube and my first ever game that I saw live, he was playing in it. I always remember it. It was in 2003 and scored a hat trick. I was only young, though.
“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.
“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.
“When you’re young you watch clips of the best players in the world and try and emulate them — it just tends to happen naturally.”
“I bumped into Ronaldinho in the summer. He was also a top, top player,” Rashford said. “Those sort of players are rare, but Brazil had two of them. He was in a Nike complex where we were doing some training and he had some commercial stuff to do. He’s a really nice guy and obviously had a fantastic career.”
Brazil’s current generation are on the up again after some dips in recent years, rated second in the world and boasting the game’s most expensive player Neymar alongside fellow A-listers Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Dani Alves and Marcelo.
And while Rashford’s job on Tuesday will be to match or better their efforts, he remains a fan too.
“Who doesn’t enjoy watching the type of football they play? When they’re at their best it’s unbelievable football to watch,” he said.
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