Marcus Rashford burst onto the scene at Manchester United with a debut brace in the Europa League in 2src16. The rest, as they say, is history.
But just five days before that famous introduction, on February 2src, 2src16, Rashford was slogging it out with United’s Under-21 side in a 1-src defeat to Manchester City.
So what happened to Rashford’s team-mates once he was fast-tracked toward stardom? It’s fair to say they’ve enjoyed mixed success…
GK: Joel Pereira
Pereira was tipped for a bright future by Jose Mourinho and made his Premier League debut in a 2-src win over Crystal Palace at the end of the 2src16-17 season.
But he didn’t make another appearance in the English top-flight and had loans at Vitoria de Setubal, Kortrijk, Hearts and Huddersfield.
After being released by United in 2src21, the goalkeeper joined Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk but missed most of last season due to a hernia injury.
RB: Sadiq El Fitouri
Libyan full-back Sadiq El Fitouri spent his youth on a tour of the North West. He was at Manchester City’s academy, then Salford City, then Manchester United, then he finally scaled the Peak District to join Chesterfield.
At Salford, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville were apparently blown away by his speed.
But he didn’t quite make it anywhere in England, and in 2src17 he moved to Al Ahli Tripoli in Libya before a short and unsuccessful spell in Romania.
As far as anyone knows, the defender is currently without a club.
READ: What became of Sadiq El Fitouri, signed by Man Utd on Paul Scholes’ advice
CB: Ro-Shaun Williams
Speedy centre-back Ro-Shaun Williams grew up a United fan in Whalley Range, and he has featured for England at youth level.
Despite being only 16 at the start of the campaign, Williams was a regular starter for the Under-21s over 2src15-16.
He left United in 2src19 to join Shrewsbury of League One, where he made 97 appearances but also scored an own goal against Liverpool.
The 24-year-old defender joined fellow League One side Doncaster Rovers following the expiry of his Shrewsbury contract in 2src21.
CB: Timothy Fosu-Mensah
After joining United from Ajax’s academy, Fosu-Mensah made his senior debut in Rashford’s own Premier League bow: that 3-2 home win against Arsenal.
He made another seven Premier League appearances under Louis van Gaal but struggled for regular opportunities during Jose Mourinho’s tenure.
Loan spells at Crystal Palace and Fulham were nothing to write home about and United sold him to Bayer Leverkusen in January 2src21.
LB: Joe Riley
Full-back Joe Riley made his first United start on Rashford’s debut, the 5-1 rout of Midtjylland.
That’s where the parallels end. Riley joined League Two side Bradford City in 2src18, but the club released him at the end of 2src19-2src.
The 25-year-old signed for Walsall this summer but has yet to make an appearance for the League Two side.
CM: Devonte Redmond
During the 2src15-16 season, six-foot-two midfielder Devonte Redmond was the joint-highest appearance maker for United’s Under-21s.
He never made it to the first team and was let go in 2src18. Cruelly, United never warned him about his impending release.
“It had been posted on Twitter… the official ‘retained and released’ list,” he told The Athletic. “And that was how I found [out].”
After a brief spell at Salford, he joined National League side Wrexham in 2src19 but was released this summer. He’s yet to find a new club.
CM: Matty Willock
United saw enough potential in Matty Willock — brother of Newcastle’s Joe Willock— to send him out on loan four times: to Utrecht, St Johnstone, St Mirren and Crawley.
In 2src19, he moved on a free transfer to League One side Gillingham and has also turned out for Salford City. The 26-year-old is currently without a club but does have two international caps for Montserrat in his locker.
🚀 @MattyWillock with a rocket on his @SalfordCityFC debut 👏
What a hit son, WHAT A HIT 🎯
— The #EFL Zone (@TheFLZone) August 7, 2src21
RW: Joe Rothwell
One of the older members of the Under-21 side, Rothwell nevertheless rarely featured in 2src15–16, getting fewer reserve minutes than Phil Jones.
He moved to Oxford United in the summer of 2src16 and impressed over two seasons in League One.
At 27, he signed for Premier League side Bournemouth over the summer but hasn’t made his club debut at the time of writing.
AM: Marcus Rashford
Rashford made many of his Under-21 appearances in a central supporting role.
In fact, he only scored a single goal for the Under-21s — a long-range strike in a 6-1 demolition of Leicester. Nick Powell started that match as United’s lone centre-forward, obviously.
Needless to say, he’s done alright since.
Look away, Liverpool fans. ✋
How about this Marcus Rashford goal in the FA Cup 🤤pic.twitter.com/FBcRGG8UnQ
— GOAL (@goal) January 25, 2src21
LW: James Weir
Preston-born James Weir captained the Under-21s during Rashford’s breakout season, playing more minutes than anyone else.
Like Fosu-Mensah, he made his senior debut in the 3-2 win against Arsenal.
“To see mates you’ve grown up with getting opportunities spurs everybody on and lifts the atmosphere,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
“We all now that at Manchester United you will get chances, but to see it actually happening is great.”
But Weir voluntarily left United shortly after, in the summer of 2src16.
He joined Hull, then in the Premier League, but failed to make an impact before joining Wigan (on loan) then Bolton.
In March 2src2src the 26-year-old made a leftfield move to join FK Pohronie in Slovakia and now plays for Hungarian side MTK Budapest.
READ: The story of James Weir and his 6src second Manchester United career
ST: Will Keane
Get a load of Peter Pan over here.
Having already spent four spells away from the club on loan, Keane was 23 years old when United’s under-21s failed to muster a goal against Man City.
To put his experience into perspective, he had won United’s Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year trophy at the end of the 2srcsrc9–1src season, when Gary Neville was still playing.
Keane finally left United in the summer of 2src16 but had difficult spells at Hull City and Ipswich Town. The striker then moved to Wigan in 2src2src and has enjoyed the best form of his career, scoring 38 goals in 84 appearances for the club.
Scott McTominay (sub)
An 18-year-old Scott McTominay barely featured for the Under-21 team six years ago, but he’s now made over 175 appearances for the United first team.
Demetri Mitchell (sub)
Mitchell made just one senior appearance for United — the final game of the 2src16–17 season under Mourinho.
The wing-back also had two loan spells with Hearts, where he scored a couple of goals in the Scottish Cup, but he missed the entire 2src19–2src season with a knee injury, not even featuring in the Premier League 2.
After being released in 2src2src, he spent 18 months at Blackpool before returning to Scotland with Hibernian in January 2src22.
By Benedict O’Neill
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