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

His wife Julie would say every time the phone rang, “This will be someone to ring about Mason, to see if he plays.”

Greenwood has clearly made a lasting impression on the pitch.

Since those carefree days as a fast-faulting striker playing near his hometown of Bradford, the 18-year-old has become an essential member of a developing squad, scoring goals, helping the team move up the league and, over the past month, speaking of the next great English talent.

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

With 10 league goals in an impressive debut season, Greenwood is the third teenager to score 10 or more Premier League goals in a single season.

Former England captain Alan Shearer said Greenwood could rape him as EPL top scorer. According to the former Liverpool player and now football analyst Jimmy Redknapp, Those who worked with the teenager at United say he is one of the best players the club has ever seen, while another former England star, Gary Lineker, said it “won’t be long” until Greenwood is selected by England manager Gareth Southgate. The list of fans seems endless.

But those who follow United closely have been aware of a young player named Greenwood who has been in the squad for years. The player has pursued exaggeration and excitement since a young age.

“A different level than anyone else”

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

Shy and petite in stature, Greenwood was also on target, shooting in sight, just as he did with United after lockdown as the team secured a lucrative Champions League spot by finishing third in the league.

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

“I kept having to put him off because once you had 10 goals you had to stop the match, so I had to stop him or else the match was going to be over very quickly,” Newsham recalls with a chuckle. “I was going to keep bringing him up and he would stick next to my leg, look at me and ask, ‘Can I carry on again, Paul?’” He was very happy to play.

“From the first training session, his control of the ball at this age has been excellent. You could tell watching him he was on a completely different level than anyone else.”

Greenwood (2R) celebrates scoring his team's second goal against Aston Villa on July 9, 2020.

Greenwood’s ability to score goals is such a natural talent that Solskjaer, the man who has worked with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, described him as the most dangerous goalscorer he has seen at such an age. He is the fourth teenager in United history, after George Best, Brian Kidd and Rooney, to score 17 or more goals in a single season.

At the annual Idle Invitational Championship, which involves local area youth teams, Greenwood was set on the track that would lead to Old Trafford. Impressed with scouts, including United, shortly after the tournament, he began coaching at the United Development Center in Halifax, Yorkshire, eventually signing with the club at the age of nine.

“I spoke to some of the scouts in that tournament, I’m sure I spoke to one of the scouts at Manchester United but I don’t remember it because there were a lot of people who came to me and then asked about it,” adds Newsham.

“Once he went to Manchester United when he was seven, he wasn’t able to play for us. And his dad called me to say he was no longer allowed to play. I was frustrated, but when you go training with a club like that you can understand why they don’t want to play. local football.

It flourished under Solskjaer

Greenwood’s rise was rapid, but no surprise to his former coach. At the age of 14, United offered him a scholarship. Two years later, he was topping the scoring charts in the U18 Premier League (North) and was named Player of the Tournament at the 2018 Cor Groenewegen International. He also excelled at England’s age group level, helping England’s Under-18 team win the Limoges Championship of 2018. Four teams.

Greenwood in play during the international friendly match between England U-15 and Turkey U-15 at St George's Park on December 21, 2015 in Burton upon Trent, England.

Under Jose Mourinho, Greenwood made his United debut, against Club America in Phoenix in the pre-season tour in the summer of 2018, but under Solskjaer he has thrived, particularly after the Premier League resumed the following June. 100-day pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He is now a senior in the first team, having scored five times in the last eight games of the season, and has come back from lockdown with a noticeably more muscular frame than the youngster who started the season off the bench.

“That’s something you sometimes see with young players, which you see at first and there’s evidence of talent, but there’s a point where they develop that extra, whether it’s upper body muscle or that edge, to get them off someone,” British sports journalist Richard Jolly Says CNN Sport.

“I think we’ll never know what would have happened had it not been for the shutdown, but it looks like he’s come back from him stronger and looks ready to play every week.”

What sets Greenwood apart from most other players is that he is bipedal, a rare skill that he acquired thanks to his father who encouraged him to train with both feet. Twenty minutes before training began at United’s Halifax FC, Greenwood was shooting with both feet at the boxes outside the door, so the story goes.

His family, shying away from media attention, as did the teenager himself, was key to his ascent, as his father took him to Moss Side, a relatively disadvantaged area of ​​the city, to play futsal in order to tighten him up.

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

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

“He gave really two feet in the final touches, and scores a lot of goals from outside the penalty area as well as from inside,” adds Jolie. “For those who believe in predicted goals, Greenwood greatly exaggerates his expected goals, showing how good he is. He never misses any opportunities.

“Maybe everyone at United knows he’s here to stay. He’s a long-term player and he looks a lot like [Marcus] Rashford, he is one of those who have saved them 50 or 100 million pounds.”

“Very exciting”

There has to be some perspective, of course. At the same age, World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe was a star player in the Champions League and broke the record set by Henry Liege 1.

However, there is no denying that Greenwood is an wondrous talent. Football is brutal business and Greenwood has already beaten the odds by getting this far – according to Michael Calvin in his book No Hunger in Heaven, only 180 of the 1.5 million boys playing organized youth football in England will ever become head of the Pro League. But throughout his young life, Greenwood distinguished himself from the rest.

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“With Mason Greenwood, we’re actually looking at a player who can be anything he wants.” Mark Goldbridge, Announcer at United Stand, for CNN Sport.

“People talk about him being there with the likes of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi. I think it’s unfair. But at 18, I remember Wayne Rooney and there are similarities in different ways, in that he has a talent that the big, experienced clubs in the Premier League struggle to shut down when he’s in a state. complete flow.

“We’re really excited about what he’s going to be like at Manchester United.”

The praise to Greenwood in the past few weeks has been generous. If it continues on an upward trajectory, he may have to get used to it.

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