Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood was just 15 when Jose Mourinho guided the club to lifting the UEFA Europa League at the end of the 2016/17 season, which was the first time the club had won the trophy, completing the haul of trophies that the club had competed for in the history of it’s existence. The teenager was sat on his parents’ sofa watching his team beat Ajax 2-0 in Sweden, a game which Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both missed due to knee injuries.
Fast forward three years and the teenager is now starting regularly for United, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now and they have reached the quarter-final stage of the competition, facing FC Copenhagen in Cologne on Monday evening, for a place in the semi-final, which will be played in the same stadium, as will the final. The season, Greenwood has risen highly, scoring 17 goals and five assists in his first full season in the first team, showing his class and ability as a forward for the club.
Greenwood has reflected on what he saw three years ago, which was United’s opportunity to earn a UEFA Champions League place the following season, after finishing sixth in the Premier League. At the time it was seen as the club stepping forward after they had won the Emirates FA Cup in the previous season, under Louis van Gaal, then winning the FA Community Shield at the start of Mourinho’s debut season, also lifting the Carabao Cup before finishing the season on a high. Greenwood, reported by The Mirror, spoke about the Europa League final, saying:
“Yeah, I remember. It was a good game. I was at home watching it with my parents and obviously we celebrated when we won.
“To have the chance to play in it myself and win it myself, I can make that dream come true.”
When United won the Europa League back in 2017, it was only a year after Marcus Rashford made his debut in the first team, replacing an injured Anthony Martial in the competition, the prior season, against FC Midtjylland. United lost 2-1 in the first leg of the round of 32 and needed a win to avoid embarrassment. Rashford announced himself on the world stage with a brace in the 5-1 victory, doing the same against Arsenal in the Premier League days later. Greenwood will be seeking to follow his teammates footsteps by lifting the trophy, but will need to help his team bean another Danish side first. Greenwood stated:
“When you see the other players doing it, you’re thinking in the academy ‘Why can’t I do it?’
“That’s every young boy’s dream in the academy: to get to the first team and be a regular at United.
“It’s the best thing you can do at this club. I’m doing it now and I’ve just got to keep staying level-headed and carry on working hard because I’ve got a long way to go yet.
“You can always get better, you can always go the extra mile. There’s no stopping, you can always be a better player.
“At this club, you’ve got some of the best players in the world, so that speaks for itself.”
Greenwood is such a good finisher, with Solskjaer suggesting that he is the best finisher of the club. But the player was asked what he would like to improve and his response will leave people thirsty for more – not his opposition though. The player has been compared to Robin van Persie in the recent past and if he can finish goals like the Dutch legend, especially with his head, he will be an awesome player in the years to come. Greenwood confirmed:
“I think in headed goals. I’ve not scored a headed goal in the first team this season. It would be nice to get one of them.”
Written by John Walker