The Man Utd teenager who’s a celebrity within the making

Teen sensation Mason Greenwood boosts Manchester United's Champions League hopes

“That’ll be someone ringing about Mason, to see if he will be playing,” his spouse Julie would say each time the cellphone rang.

Greenwood has, clearly, at all times made an impression on the pitch.

Since these carefree days as a lightning fast striker taking part in close to his hometown of Bradford, the 18-year-old has change into an integral member of an enhancing United, scoring targets, serving to the staff stand up the league and, over the past month, talked about as the subsequent nice English expertise.

He may additionally assist United attain the Europa League ultimate, ought to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s males overcome Sevilla in Sunday’s semifinal.

Scoring 10 league targets in a formidable debut season, Greenwood is barely the third teenager to attain 10 or extra English Premier League targets in a single marketing campaign.

Former England captain Alan Shearer has stated Greenwood may usurp him because the EPL’s record scorer. According to former Liverpool participant and now soccer pundit Jamie Redknapp, these at United who’ve labored with {the teenager} say he is the most effective the membership has ever seen, whereas one other former England star, Gary Lineker, has stated it “won’t be long” till Greenwood is chosen by England supervisor Gareth Southgate. The record of admirers appears limitless.

But those that observe United intently have recognized a couple of younger participant referred to as Greenwood coming via the ranks for years. Hyperbole and pleasure has adopted the participant from a younger age.

‘A unique stage to everybody else’

As a six-year-old taking part in for Idle FC’s under-7s, it was the younger Greenwood’s tempo that stood out, remembers Newsham.

Shy and small in stature, Greenwood additionally had a watch for objective, taking pictures on sight, simply as he did for United post-lockdown because the staff secured a profitable Champions League spot by ending third within the league.

A couple of days after his sixth birthday, Greenwood made his debut for Idle FC in a match towards Silsden Football and Cricket Club, scoring all 10 targets in a 10-1 win.

“I kept having to bring him off because once you had 10 goals you had to stop the game, so I had to bring him off otherwise the game would’ve been over too quick,” remembers Newsham with a chuckle. “I’d keep bringing him off and he’d just stick by the side of my leg, looking up at me asking, ‘Can I go on again yet, Paul?’ He was so happy to be playing.

“From the primary coaching session, his management of the ball at that type of age was wonderful. You may inform watching him he was a very totally different stage to everybody else.”

Greenwood’s scoring ability is a natural talent honed to such an extent that Solskjaer, a man who worked with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, has described him as the deadliest finisher he has seen at such an age. He is only the fourth teenager in United’s history, following George Best, Brian Kidd and Rooney, to score 17 goals or more in a season.

It was at Idle’s annual invitational tournament, involving youth teams in the local area, that Greenwood was set on a path that would lead to Old Trafford. Having impressed onlooking scouts, including United’s, shortly after the tournament he started training at United’s development centre in Halifax, Yorkshire, eventually signing for the club aged nine.

“I did converse to some scouts at that event, I’m certain I spoke to a Man Utd scout however I do not recall it as a result of there have been that many coming as much as me then asking about him,” adds Newsham.

“Once he went to Manchester United when he was seven, he could not play for us. His dad rung me to say he wasn’t allowed to play anymore. I used to be gutted, however once you go to coach with a membership like which you can perceive why they do not wish to play native soccer.”

Flourishing under Solskjaer

Greenwood’s rise has been rapid, but of no surprise to his former coach. Aged 14, United gave him a scholarship. Two years later, he was topping the scoring charts in the Under-18s Premier League (north) and being named player of the tournament at the 2018 International Cor Groenewegen Tournament. He also excelled at age group level for England, helping England’s Under-18s win the four-team Limoges tournament.

Greenwood in action during the international friendly between England U15 and Turkey U15 at St George's Park on December 21, 2015 in Burton-upon-Trent, England.

It was under Jose Mourinho that Greenwood made his senior debut for United, against Club America in Phoenix on a pre-season tour in the summer of 2018, but it is under Solskjaer that he has blossomed, particularly excelling once the EPL resumed in June following a 100-day pause because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He is now established in the first team, scoring five times in the last eight games of the season, and returned from lockdown with a noticeably more muscular frame than the teenager who started the season on the substitutes’ bench.

“That’s typically one thing you see with younger gamers, that originally you see them and there is proof of expertise, however then there is a level the place they develop that additional, whether or not it is higher physique muscle or that fringe of tempo, to take them away from somebody,” British sports activities journalist Richard Jolly tells CNN Sport.

“I suppose we’ll by no means know what would have occurred with out the lockdown, however he does appear to have come again from it stronger and looking out able to play each week.”

What sets Greenwood apart from most other players is that he is two-footed, a rare skill acquired thanks to his father who would encourage him to practice with both feet. Twenty minutes before the start of training at United’s Halifax center, Greenwood would be shooting with both feet at the bins outside the door, so the story goes.

His family, who have shied away from media attention, as has the teenager himself, have been key to his rise, with his father taking him to Moss Side, a relatively deprived area of the city, to play five-a-side football to toughen him up.

Greenwood celebrates scoring against Bournemouth at Old Trafford on July 4, 2020.

Poised in entrance of objective, he performs as if time slows when he has the ball and has already confirmed he can rating from all types of angles and distances.

“He’s genuinely two-footed along with his ending, he scores variety of targets from outdoors the field in addition to inside,” adds Jolly. “For those that consider in anticipated targets, Greenwood over-performs his anticipated targets to an enormous extent, exhibiting what finisher he’s. He’s not lacking possibilities in any respect.

“Everyone at United probably knows he’s here to stay. He is one for the long term and he’s much like [Marcus] Rashford, he’s one of those who saved them 50 or 100 million pounds.”

‘Massively thrilling’

There must be some perspective, in fact. At the identical age, World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe was starring within the Champions League and breaking Thierry’s Henry Ligue 1 scoring report.

Yet, there isn’t any denying that Greenwood is a wondrous expertise. Football is a brutal enterprise and Greenwood has already crushed the percentages by making it this far — in accordance with Michael Calvin in his e book “No Hunger in Paradise” solely 180 of the 1.5 million boys who play organized youth soccer in England will change into a Premier League skilled. But all through his younger life, Greenwood has set himself aside from the remaining.

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“With Mason Greenwood, we’re actually looking at a player that can be anything he wants to be,” Mark Goldbridge, presenter for United Stand, tells Source Sport.

“People are talking about him being up there with the likes of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi. I think that’s unfair. But at 18 years of age, I remember Wayne Rooney and there are parallels in different ways, in that he’s got a talent that senior, experienced Premier League clubs are struggling to shut him down when he’s in full flow off both feet.

“We’re actually, actually enthusiastic about what he will change into at Manchester United.”

The praise directed at Greenwood these last few weeks has been lavish. Should he continue on an upward trajectory, he may have to become accustomed to it.

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