MASON GREENWOOD thanked Marcus Rashford for pointing the way to first-team glory.
The teenager’s breakthrough season has seen him score 17 goals and he heads into the Europa League mini- tournament in Germany looking for his first trophy.
Greenwood, 18, said: “When I was younger, I looked up to Marcus, Jesse, Scott, all of them coming through.
“I was thinking: ‘If they’re doing it, I can do it as well’. They give you a nice footpath and a clear way to the first team.
“They’re good role models for me, as I was watching them when I was younger — now I’m playing alongside them.
“When you see the other players doing it, you’re thinking in the academy: ‘Why can’t I do it?’
“And that’s every young boy’s dream in the academy — to get to the first team and be a regular at Man United. It’s the best thing you can do at this club.
“I’m doing it now and I’ve just got to keep level-headed and carry on working hard because I’ve got a long way to go yet.”
Only 22 years old himself, Rashford must find it odd to be seen as a role model and someone who can pass down advice.
Still, he is now in his fifth season as a first-team player and has 67 goals to his name in 212 appearances. Asked what advice he has handed down, Greenwood said: “To keep your head down, to always work hard.
“Keep level-headed and just concentrate, really, because you’re at one of the best clubs in the world and you need to enjoy it.
“As much as it’s serious, you’ve got to enjoy it and play with a passion. You can always get better and go the extra mile.”
The last time United lifted the Europa League — beating Ajax 2-0 — Greenwood was at home watching it on TV with his parents.
The three of them have been backing each other up. It will be exciting times for United in the next few years.”
Solskjaer on Greenwood, Rashford and Martial
Tonight he will line up in the last eight of the competition against Copenhagen with the ultimate aim of emulating Jose Mourinho’s team of 2017 during a fortnight here in Germany.
He said: “I was at home watching it with my parents and we celebrated when we won. To have the chance to play in it myself and win it myself, I can make that dream come true.”
As a former striker, United chief Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had a huge influence on Greenwood. The Norwegian hailed him as the best finisher in the club and the teenager has not let him down in that respect.
Alongside Rashford with 22 goals and Anthony Martial with 23 he is part of a formidable three-pronged attack.
Solskjaer said: “The three of them have been backing each other up. I hope they will continue their development.
“It will be exciting times for United in the next few years.”
And Ole believes the hard work behind the scenes is paying dividends in particular for Martial who, like Rashford, is enjoying his best season as a striker.
Solskjaer said: “Anthony has made huge strides this season in many aspects of his game.
“I like him scoring, being in between the posts, call it the simple goals. We know he can do the worldies, like he has a few times.
“He’s in the gym a lot and working on his strength and fitness with the staff.
“He’s physically at the best level in his career and I’m just looking forward to seeing him improve even more. There’s more to come from Anthony, definitely.
DELIGHT OVER POGBA
“We went into this season knowing the Europa League is a great chance to get a trophy but also to groom some of the youngsters.
“I think if we’d been in the Champions League this season I maybe wouldn’t have had the chance to play the likes of Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood as much as we have.
“So many of the young kids have now started what’s going to be fantastic careers.”
Another positive is the happiness of Paul Pogba, who returned to United from Juventus in 2016 for a then £89million world-record fee.
Solskjaer said: “We are delighted he’s back playing, he’s enjoying his football. He’s got to make up for lost time and is trying to do that.
“He is doing extra training. He’s always a great personality in and around the place, and hopefully we can see him lift this trophy.”
LIKELY LINE-UPS — MANCHESTER UNITED: Romero, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Williams, Pogba, McTominay, Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
COPENHAGEN: Johnsson, Varela, Bjelland, Boilesen, Nelsson, Zeca, Mas, Mudrazija, Jensen, Wind, Kaufman.