Mason Greenwood: the Man Utd teenager on the way to becoming a great

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“It will be someone who will ring about Mason, to see if he will play,” said his wife Julie every time the phone rang.

Greenwood has clearly always made a strong impression on the pitch.

From those reckless days as a lightning-fast forward playing near his hometown of Bradford, the 18-year-old has become a full member of an improving United, scoring goals, helping the ‘team to move up in the league and, over the past month or so, has spoken pretty much like the next great English talent.

He could also help United reach the Europa League final, if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men beat Sevilla in Sunday’s semi-final.

Scoring 10 league goals in an impressive first season, Greenwood is only the third teenager to score 10 or more English Premier League goals in a single campaign.

Former England captain Alan Shearer has said Greenwood could usurp him as the EPL record scorer. According to former Liverpool player and now football expert Jamie Redknapp, those at United who worked with the teenager say he is one of the best the club has ever seen, while another former star of England’s Gary Lineker has said it won’t. long “until Greenwood was selected by England manager Gareth Southgate. The list of admirers seems endless.

But those who follow United closely know a young player called Greenwood who has been rising through the ranks for years. Hyperbole and excitement have followed the player from a young age.

‘A different level for everyone’

As a six-year-old playing for Idle FC’s Under-7s, it was the pace of young Greenwood that stood out, Newsham recalls.

Shy and short, Greenwood also had an eye for goal, shooting on sight, much like he did for United after the lockout, with the team securing a lucrative Champions League berth by finishing third in the league.

Days after his sixth birthday, Greenwood made his debut for Idle FC in a game against Silsden Football and Cricket Club, scoring all 10 goals in a 10-1 win.

“I kept having to bring him because once you had 10 goals you had to stop the game, so I had to send him out or the game would have been too fast,” Newsham recalls with a little to laugh. “I would keep pushing him away and he would just sit right next to my leg, looking at me like, ‘Can I go on anymore, Paul?’ He was so happy to play.

“From the first practice session his control of the ball at this age group was excellent. You could tell by looking at him that he was at a totally different level from everyone else.”

Greenwood (2R) celebrates his team's second goal against Aston Villa on July 9, 2020.
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Greenwood’s scoring ability is a natural talent perfected to such an extent that Solskjaer, a man who has 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 history, after George Best, Brian Kidd and Rooney, to score 17 or more goals in a season.

It was during Idle’s annual invitational tournament, involving local youth teams, that Greenwood was put on a path that would lead to Old Trafford. After impressing scouts, including United, soon after the tournament, he started training at United’s development center in Halifax, Yorkshire, before signing for the club at the age of nine. .

“I spoke to some scouts at this tournament, I’m sure I spoke to a scout from Man Utd but I don’t remember because there were so many who came to me to ask questions on him, ”Newsham adds.

“Once he went to Manchester United when he was seven he couldn’t play for us. His dad called me to tell me he wasn’t allowed to play anymore. I was drained, but when you go to train with a club like this. you can understand why they don’t want to play local football. “

Thrive under Solskjaer

Greenwood’s rise was swift, but no surprise to his former coach. The 14-year-old United gave him a scholarship. Two years later, he topped the Premier League Under-18 (north) rankings and was named Player of the Tournament at the 2018 Cor Groenewegen International Tournament. He also excelled at age group level for the England, helping England’s Under-18s win the Limoges four-team tournament.

Greenwood in action during the International Friendly match between England U15 and Turkey U15 at St George's Park on December 21st, 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 preseason tour in the summer of 2018, but it was under Solskjaer that he flourished. , particularly excelling once the EPL resumed in June following a 100-day hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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

“It’s sometimes something that you see with young players, that at the beginning you see them and there is evidence of talent, but there is a point where they develop that extra, whether it is the muscles at the top. of the body or that edge of the rhythm, to keep them away from someone, “British sports journalist Richard jolly says CNN Sport.

“I guess we’ll never know what would have happened without the lockdown, but he seems to have come back stronger and ready to play every week.”

What sets Greenwood apart from most other players is that he has two feet, a rare skill learned from his father that would encourage him to train with both feet. Twenty minutes before training begins at United’s center in Halifax, Greenwood is reportedly shooting the trash cans outside the gate with both feet, according to the story.

His family, who avoided media attention, along with the teenager himself, was key to his rise, with his father taking him to Moss Side, a relatively underprivileged part of town, to play football. at five. toughen it up.

Greenwood celebrates his goal against Bournemouth at Old Trafford on 4th July 2020.

Keen on goal, he plays as if time slows down when he has the ball and has already proven he can score from all kinds of angles and distances.

“He’s really on two feet with his finish, he’s scoring a lot of goals from the outside and the inside,” Jolly adds. “For those who believe in expected goals, Greenwood over-executes his expected goals tremendously, showing just how good a finisher he is. He’s not short of chances at all.

“Everyone at United probably knows he’s here to stay. He’s one for the long haul and he looks a lot like [Marcus] Rashford, he’s one of those people who saved them £ 50 million or £ 100 million. “

‘Massively exciting’

There has to be some perspective, of course. At the same age, World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe was playing in the Champions League and breaking Thierry’s goal record in Ligue 1.

Still, there’s no denying that Greenwood is a wonderful talent. Football is a brutal business and Greenwood has already beaten the odds by going this far – according to Michael Calvin in his book “No Hunger in Paradise”, only 180 of the 1.5 million boys who play organized youth football in Canada. England will become Prime Minister. League professional. But throughout his young life, Greenwood stood out from the crowd.

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“With Mason Greenwood, we’re actually looking for a player who can be whatever he wants to be,” Mark Goldbridge, presenter for United Stand, told CNN Sport.

“People say he’s up there with Neymar, Mbappe and Messi. I think it’s unfair. But at 18 I remember Wayne Rooney and there are parallels in different ways, in that sense that he has a talent that senior and experienced clubs in the Premier League have a hard time silencing as he is on the rise.

“We are very, very excited about what will happen to him at Manchester United.”

The praise for Greenwood in recent weeks has been lavish. If he continues on an upward trajectory, he may need to get used to it.



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