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The Man Utd teenager who is a superstar in the making

“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, all the time made an impression on the pitch.

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

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

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

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

But these who observe United carefully have recognized about a younger participant known as Greenwood coming by means of 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 enjoying for Idle FC’s under-7s, it was the younger Greenwood’s tempo that stood out, recollects Newsham.

Shy and small in stature, Greenwood additionally had an eye fixed for objective, capturing on sight, simply as he did for United post-lockdown as the workforce secured a profitable Champions League spot by ending third in 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 objectives 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,” recollects 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 first coaching session, his management of the ball at that type of age was wonderful. You may inform watching him he was a completely completely 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 match, 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 you could perceive why they do not need 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.

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’s a level the place they develop that further, whether or not it is higher physique muscle or that fringe of tempo, to take them away from somebody,” British sports 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.

Poised in front of goal, he plays as if time slows when he has the ball and has already proven he can score from all sorts of angles and distances.

“He’s genuinely two-footed along with his ending, he scores a good variety of objectives from outdoors the field in addition to inside,” adds Jolly. “For these who imagine in anticipated objectives, Greenwood over-performs his anticipated objectives to a enormous extent, displaying what a good finisher he is. He’s not lacking probabilities 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 similar age, World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe was starring in the Champions League and breaking Thierry’s Henry Ligue 1 scoring document.

Yet, there is no denying that Greenwood is a wondrous expertise. Football is a brutal enterprise and Greenwood has already crushed the odds by making it this far — in keeping 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 other than the relaxation.

“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 CNN 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 reward directed at Greenwood these previous couple of weeks has been lavish. Should he proceed on an upward trajectory, he could need to change into accustomed to it.

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