London (AFP) – Marcus Rashford believes England should fear no one at Euro 2020 despite the prospect of a tough last-16 tie against world champions France or European Championship holders Portugal.
The Three Lions got off to a winning start at a European Championship for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Croatia and face Scotland in a Group D clash laced with historical rivalry on Friday.
The winners of that group will play the runners-up from Group F, with France and Portugal off to winning starts.
“To play against Portgual would be a great feeling for everyone in the squad because to play against some of the best players in the world, we want to test ourselves against the best,” Rashford said on Wednesday.
“We don’t want an easy ride, we want to play against the best teams in the world. We want to do well against them. For the players, it will be an amazing experience.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in Portugal’s 3-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday to become the top goalscorer in European Championship history.
Rashford was in the Manchester United youth ranks when Ronaldo dazzled Old Trafford before moving to Real Madrid for a then world-record fee in 2009.
“Just watching him grow really and develop into the player he’s become was the great thing about it because when he first started playing, he wasn’t the Cristiano that you see today or five years ago.
“He was a different player, he was always dribbling, always taking people on and then just as time went on he just turned into an animal.
“He was scoring, he was assisting, he’s 36 and he’s scoring goals left, right and centre, so I don’t have a bad word to say about him. I think he’s someone a lot of people look up to, including me.”
– Scotland challenge –
Before looking forward to the knockout phase, England still have work to do in the group, with Scotland hoping to shock their neighbours at Wembley.
Rashford is aware of the importance of the rivalry to the fans and compared the clash to his experience of facing Manchester City or Liverpool for Manchester United.
“Through our careers this is going to be up there with one of the biggest games that we play, one of the games we remember for the rest of our careers,” he said.
“It’s similar to the games that I’ve played for my club, against like City and Liverpool, those type of those games you have a different feeling.”
Rashford has earned as many plaudits over the past year for his work off the field as on it.
The 23-year-old spearheaded a campaign to tackle child food poverty in Britain during the coronavirus pandemic and has launched a book club to get disadvantaged children reading more.
Last month he was praised by former US president Barack Obama for the work he has done on social issues.
However, Rashford ruled out the possibility of moving into politics once his career comes to an end.
“It’s not something I grew up wanting to do,” he said. “My mind’s not on that really, but it was great speaking to him (Obama) and I’ve enjoyed speaking to people like that, learning from them and taking what I can from the stories that they tell me. It’s something I will always remember.”
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