Marcus Rashford has revealed that David Beckham and Paul Scholes played a key role in his development at Manchester United despite never working with him.
Two Red Devils icons were still at the peak of their powers when a starry-eyed youngster joined the academy ranks at Old Trafford.
Beckham had left for Real Madrid by the time Rashford arrived in 2005, but Scholes was still a key part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s star-studded squad.
Both were held up as inspirations for those seeking to tread a similar path through a famed youth system, with the Class of 92 setting the benchmark for clubs around the world.
Rashford has gone on to become a senior star in his own right, with the desire to follow the lead of Beckham and Co helping to carry him to the top.
The 22-year-old England international told ESPN: “It's a bit overwhelming, but when you look at it, it's just the process of development.
“The players I looked up to are obviously older now. The younger players look up to us. That transition happens so fast. Until I understood that, my perception of that picture changed a little bit. It became a bit more normal. I understand what it does for the kids.
“When I was younger and would see people like Beckham and Scholes on the walls, it gives you that determination every time you went to training. You would want to reach those heights.
“You know they are on the other side of the building, and they are training every day and working hard. You would go and watch them on a weekend. You would be so far away from them, but you were so close at the same time. That is what those pictures in the academy give you.”
Rashford could have been flourishing elsewhere had he taken a different path in his younger years, with the likes of Manchester City, Newcastle, Everton and Liverpool having all noted his potential.
He is, however, a United fan and says they have always been the only club for him.
On how he ended up with the Red Devils, the England international said: “Before I came to United, there were loads of different clubs.
“Obviously, my mum didn't really know much about football. Obviously, we supported Man Utd. It was my brothers, really, who managed to categorise good academies from bad academies, and then the final decision just came down to which club do you love and want to play for?
“Once I went to United, it was perfect. It was everything that you wish for as a kid. That's how it all began, really.
“Whether you leave the club or you stay here forever, that feeling never leaves you for your whole life. People say that once you play for Man Utd, you're always a red, and for me, that's true.”
Rashford got his big break at United during the 2015-16 season, with an unfortunate injury suffered by current team-mate Anthony Martial seeing Louis van Gaal thrust an exciting teenager onto a senior stage.
“It was unfortunate for Anthony that he got injured, but it was an opportunity to speed up the process for me playing in the first team,” said Rashford, who netted twice against Midtjylland and another brace on his Premier League bow against Arsenal.
“Because of the way it happened, I wasn't thinking much about anything. I just wanted to enjoy the moment. It was something special for the rest of my career. I just wanted to enjoy it.
“I think I would have made my debut, just later in the season. It was Leicester or Watford away about four months [earlier]. I was on the bench but didn't manage to get on. You could see I was getting closer and closer to the first team and maybe getting a game.”