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Marcus Rashford continued his incredible record of scoring in debut outings when he made his Champions League debut against FC Basel in September, but Juan Mata has warned against placing too much pressure on the talented teenager.

Having spent his career playing with some of the best players in world football, Mata knows all about what it takes to reach the top.

During his time with Chelsea, Manchester United and Spain, Mata has lined up alongside the likes of Andres Iniesta, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic among others.

So, when he speaks with such glowing praise about the prospects of Rashford we should all sit up and take notice.

Rashford again found himself on the scoresheet on Wednesday night as his free-kick from the left was carried into his own net by Benfica ‘s 18-year-old goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

The strike on his Champions League debut means he's scored on his Europa League, Premier League and EFL Cup bows, as well as repeating the feat for the England senior and the England Under-21 side.

Six debuts for club and country and six goals. Not only is he consistent, he's a big game player who delivers.

Mata has played and trained with some of football’s most talented players and yet he still can remember the first time a young Rashford linked up with the first-team at Manchester United.

“It has been great for us since he started,” says Mata, who was speaking at the Soccerex Global Conference in Manchester

“You know when we saw him training in the first-team, we felt something special about him.

“And he is doing it. He is making some good steps in his evolution.

“He is a great player with great condition, he has a good mentality as well which is important for his age.

“He is scoring goals for England and for us. You know having him in our team he can change the game with one sprint and one skill.

“He is a great talent that will hopefully be great for both United and England in many years to come.”

It has been a meteoric rise for Rashford during his time at Old Trafford.

His debut in February 2016 came about due to an injury crisis that meant he was on the bench for United’s Europa League clash with FC Midtjylland.

The teenager came on as a substitute to score twice against the Danish side and he has never looked back since.

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United

Three days later he was scoring against Arsenal in the Premier League and by the summer he was in England’s squad for Euro 2016.

The 18-year-old, who no one had heard of only a matter of months ago, was suddenly the name on everyone’s lips.

He's continued to take his chances, too.

One man who was not surprised by Rashford’s explosion onto the scene is Mike Phelan.

The 54-year-old was assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson from 2008 to 2013 and naturally he was aware of the talent coming through.

Having played for United too, Phelan has witnessed many times the moment when a youngster makes that step up to the first team.

And, when he considers Rashford’s emergence, one name from Old Trafford folklore springs to mind.

“There is a lot of young talent, a lot of good young talent out there,” he says.

“Obviously cultures have to drive momentum in order to get them where they want to go. That takes time, that takes opportunity. It takes bravery sometimes.

“But I remember being a player at Man United when there was a young boy called Ryan Giggs running around out there.

“Straight away you know the impact he is going to have in his career. It is an obvious thing that.

“There are others that have to work at it. They have to work hard at it and they have to improve a lot more than the ones that have little bit of talent.”

Since making his debut in February 2016, Rashford has gone on to establish himself for both club and country.

In particular his role for England is seemingly growing every time Gareth Southgate announces his latest squad.

With the World Cup looming at the end of this season, naturally eyes are being drawn towards Rashford as someone who can help spearhead England’s attack.

However, Mata has told the media to be wary about putting so much pressure on someone so young.

“That is one of the risky things when you are a young footballer and you play for such a big club,” he says.

“The media and everyone speaks very good about you when you score, but when you dont' play good they are the first ones that try to put you down.

“You need to be balanced in your mind and I think he is.

“He is very focused on training good, and having a good lifestyle and being professional.

“I see him as someone who could be really, really good for both country and club.”

From what you hear, Rashford is someone who can cope with the expectation being laid at his feet.

The forward is incredibly grounded and works exceptionally hard to improve his game.

However, English football is littered with examples of the media hyping up the next big thing – only for that player’s career to nose-dive.

Having worked as coach for over 20 years, Phelan knows all about such perils and it is why he has told Rashford to not rest on his laurels.

“Everybody has picked out Marcus Rashford now as the new kid on the block and an automatic success story,” he says.

“If anything, if Marcus learns more, dedicates himself to his career, does more of the right things than the wrong things, then he is in an environment that can only help him succeed.

“Obviously he is getting game time, that’s important to be in the competition, but at a place like Manchester United it is everything.

“He is certainly showing signs of being a successful footballer, but he is young.

“There are going to be collision courses along the way and there are going to be slight deviations in his progress – that’s a fact.

“But it is how he handles that, and what people are around him, to get him through that.”

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