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Ronaldo the inspiration for Marcus Rashford as England face Brazil test

Striker reveals how watching Brazilian great play live - and later earning his praise - was key to his progression from schoolboy to international footballer

The story has been told countless times: On 23 April 2003, Roman Abramovich was in attendance at Old Trafford to witness Manchester United beat Real Madrid 4-3 in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie. It was an encounter full of drama and wonderful attacking play that not only contributed to the Spanish side progressing 6-5 on aggregate but Abramovich falling in love with football. The Russian, captivated and with billions burning in his back pocket, paid £140m for Chelsea three months later and changed the game in this country.

What is less known is that there was someone else watching on at Old Trafford that spring evening who would go on to have an impact on English football, less significantly but in its own way also an absorbing tale. He was five at the time, a United supporter who while disappointed by his team’s defeat was left elated and fascinated by what he had just seen, in particular by the contribution of Ronaldo (the original one), who scored a hat-trick and played with such verve and ruthlessness that he received a standing ovation from the majority of the crowd upon being substituted on 67 minutes. The five?year-old was on his feet, too. His name? Marcus Rashford.

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