Ten players who made stunning debuts

Marcus Rashford is the talk of the town after scoring a brace on his Premier League debut for Manchester United as the Red Devils beat Arsenal 3-2 on Sunday.

The 18-year-old’s performance at the weekend capped a marvelous four days for a player few outside United’s inner circle would have heard much about a week ago. The striker had first announced his arrival by scoring twice in United’s 5-1 victory over Midtjylland in the Europa League last Thursday, before following that showing up with another goal-filled display.

Described by United’s Under-19 coach Nicky Butt as an “explosive” goalscorer who “also puts a shift in for the team”, Rashford has the world at his feet if he continues to develop as many United experts believe he will.

He is not the first player to make an astounding impact at the start of his career, and we’ve rolled back the years to recall ten other players who started their careers in England with a bang:

Paul Scholes

A member of the famed ‘Class of 92’, Scholes wasn’t part of the FA Youth Cup-winning team of 1992, and remained something of an unknown. That is until he debuted for the United first team in a League Cup tie at Port Vale two years later, where he scored a brace.

What happened next? The ginger midfielder become a permanent fixture in Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering side and is regarded as one of the club’s best-ever players.

Federico Macheda

After scoring a bucketload of goals for the Man United Under-18s, Macheda made his Premier League debut off the bench against Aston Villa in 2009. He proceeded to score a late winner with a curling effort, after United had trailed 2-1 when he was subbed on. He repeated the feat with another spectacular late winner against Sunderland. All at the age of 17.

What happened next? Macheda failed to establish himself at Old Trafford and after being shipped out on loan to five different clubs he eventually made a permanent switch to Cardiff City. He is still only 24-years-old, though, so still has time to rise to prominence again.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Big things were expected from the 23-year-old when he signed for Man United from PSV Eindhoven for £19 million in 2001. And he didn’t disappoint, scoring in the Charity Shield win over Liverpool before bagging a brace against Fulham in his first Premier League appearance.

What happened next? The Dutchman became one of the most prolific goalscorers in English football history and after five successful seasons at Old Trafford he moved to Real Madrid.

Wayne Rooney

Having already scored a late winner to end Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run as a 16-year-old for Everton in 2002, a move to Manchester United two years later brought him further into the limelight. His debut for the Red Devils came in a Champions League home tie against Fenerbahçe, a fixture which United won 6-2 with Rooney scoring a hat-trick, the youngest player ever to manage the feat in the competition.

What happened next? Rooney became a superstar, for both club and country.

Jermaine Pennant

Pennant became Arsenal’s youngest ever player when he debuted against Middlesbrough in the League Cup in November 2009 aged 16 years and 319 days – a record which has since surpassed by Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere. The winger had to wait two more years to make his full league debut against Southampton in 2003, and made an immediate impression as he smashed in a hat-trick, but that triple proved to be his only goals for the Gunners.

What happened next? Pennant became something of a journeyman footballer, and played for 13 different clubs in an 18-year career. He is currently on the books of Singapore’s Tampines Rovers, where he also scored on debut, albeit in a trial match.

Alan Shearer

The striker announced himself on the world stage in 1988 when the then-17-year-old became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the English leagues as Southampton beat Arsenal 4-2. The clash with the Gunners was his full debut, and he hadn’t even signed a professional contract yet.

What happened next? Successful spells at Blackburn and Newcastle ensured Shearer retired as the record goal-scorer in the history of the Premier League.

Alan Smith

Shortly after celebrating his 18th birthday, Smith scored with his first touch for the Leeds United first team, as Leeds came from behind to beat Liverpool 3-1.

What happened next? Smith had a reasonable career for Leeds, Man United – where he scored on debut in the Community Shield – and Newcastle, but never quite delivered on his early promise.

Sergio Aguero

While he was already known as a player with a nose for goal from his time at Independiente and Atletico Madrid, it wasn’t until his move to Manchester City that the Argentina international really caught the eye. The 23-year-old quickly made his mark in England, though, scoring twice and assisting another on his debut as City beat Swansea 4-0.

What happened next? Five years later Aguero is one of the most feared forwards in England after playing a key role in helping the Citizen win their first two Premier League titles.

Michael Owen

Shortly after signing his first professional contract, the 17-year-old Owen became Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer when the Reds suffered a 2-1 defeat to Wimbledon.

What happened next? Owen’s time at Liverpool and in the England shirt was hugely successful, but after moves to Real Madrid, Newcastle and Man United, the forward never quite reached the lofty heights that his early promise suggested he would.

Milan Baros

Few fans would have known much of the Czech international when he made his move to Anfield from Baník Ostrava in 2002. After scoring a brace of goals in his Premier League debut when the Reds beat Bolton 3-2, fans and pundits alike thought they had discovered a real gem.

Just in case

What happened next? After spending four frustrating years at Liverpool, Baros departed to Aston Villa and spent time in France and Turkey before returning to his homeland in 2014. The now-34-year-old is currently on the books of Mladá Boleslav.

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