I’ve got England scoring records in my sights
Mason Greenwood did not flinch when asked during his first interview as an England player whether he was aiming to become a recordbreaker for club and country.
The 18-year-old had already been probed on Alan Shearer’s belief that he could break his Premier League goalscoring record before he was put on the spot over whether he was targeting Wayne Rooney’s records for Manchester United and England.
Rooney scored 253 goals for United and another 53 for England. Greenwood has 17 for United and is still waiting to make his England debut, having been called into the senior squad for the first time for the Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark.
But the forward has already set himself some big targets, one of which is to win the Premier League title in just his second full season as a senior United player, which he believes is possible.
“Any young football player would want to break records and if you didn’t, there’s something wrong,” Greenwood said. “It’s always nice to have visions and goals you set in your football career and that goes for virtually any England forward – go out there and do your best and break records, and just be remembered for ever, really.”
In his impressive breakthrough campaign, Greenwood joined Rooney, Brian Kidd and George Best as just the fourth teenager to score at least 17 goals in a season for United.
He also became the first teenager to score 10 or more Premier League goals in 22 years, prompting Shearer to claim he could break his top-flight record of 260.
“He’s been a legend, he’s done it all,” Greenwood said. “He’s been good for England as well, so for someone like that to say that about me is nice to hear.”
Rooney has claimed Greenwood is already the best finisher at United and is ready to become Harry Kane’s main deputy for England.
“Obviously, it’s nice to hear those things, but it’s all about staying focused and proving your point on the pitch,” Greenwood said. “But to hear things like that from Wayne and a big United legend, it’s amazing. I’ve been watching him as a kid, so for him to be talking like that puts a smile on my face.”
Greenwood’s goals helped United to clinch third place and Champions League qualification last season, but the youngster insisted he and his team-mates would be aiming higher this term.
“We hope to push those clubs [Manchester City and Liverpool] this season, not just to finish in the Champions League places, but to push for the league,” Greenwood said. “It’s been a long time coming, but I feel we are starting to get there and we are starting to be ready to push for the places at the top of the table.”
Despite his lofty ambitions, Greenwood insists his United upbringing makes it easy for him to remain level-headed.
“It’s pretty easy,” he said. “The players at United get taught just to ignore it [the hype], just carry on doing what you’re doing.
“Everyone will be supporting you when you’re doing good, but maybe when you’re doing bad not many people will be supporting you, so it’s all about staying calm and just forgetting about it, because it’s what’s on the pitch that’s more important.”
Greenwood is already teammates with some of his United role models and hopes to play with another one of the players he has looked up to for England.
“Marcus [Rashford] has been one of the biggest influences on my career, because he’s come through the same pathway,” Greenwood said. “He’s helped me a lot, he’s been in my position and knows how it feels.
“There is a clear pathway at United as you can see with Marcus, Scott [McTominay], Jesse [Lingard] and Paul [Pogba] all coming through those ranks. You’ve just got to take your chances and go for it. Hopefully, I will have an exciting career for Man United and England.”
Asked who he was most looking forward to playing with for England, Greenwood added: “Harry Kane. When I was in the youth team I was watching him in the Premier League and obviously he’s a good finisher. It would be nice to play with him and he’s been a role model for me, so it would be good to be a team-mate.”
One of the features of Greenwood’s incredible breakthrough has been his ability to play with both feet, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, describing him as “51-49 left-footed”.
Greenwood settled the debate on which was his best foot by saying: “I use any foot when it comes to it, but I prefer to use my left foot than my right.
“When I was younger, I put in a lot of practice on both feet and it’s stayed with me naturally now. I’m glad I did it at such a young age because it benefits my game.”