Kobbie Mainoo England call-up: Manchester United midfielder’s rise to stardom

Teenage midfielder Kobbie Mainoo has earned his first call-up to the England squad after an impressive breakthrough season with Manchester United.

Despite clamour from media and pundits, Mainoo, 18, was initially left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad announcement for the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium. But the late call offers a chance to impress before the European Championship in Germany this summer.

Injuries and lack of form for others opened a door for Mainoo to secure a place in United boss Erik ten Hag’s plans late in 2023 when he made his first senior appearance of this campaign against Everton in November.

The academy graduate looked immediately at home and has gone on to make 20 appearances, including starting 14 of the past 15 matches.

He scored a stunning individual 97th-minute winner in a 4-3 Premier League classic against Wolves at Molineux in February and in the post-match interview told TNT Sports with a big grin that it was a “dream come true”.

“I have still not come down from it. I still feel like I am dreaming to be honest,” Mainoo said at the time. “To start playing in the Premier League for my boyhood club has been amazing.”

And BBC pundit Ian Wright posted: “Kobbie Mainoo has to be in the next England squad. Such maturity in chaotic conditions that we’ve not seen from an England player in a long time. Impressed every time I watch him.”

Mainoo’s quick feet, balance and pace had commentators purring again on Sunday as he weaved past three Liverpool players to create a 34th-minute chance for Scott McTominay in another 4-3 thriller.

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Mainoo is the latest teenage star to come through the United ranks and burst on to the Premier League stage.

Four of the past five 90th-minute winning goals in the Premier League by players aged 18 or younger have been for United: Federico Macheda in 2009, Marcus Rashford in 2016, Alejandro Garnacho in 2022 and now Mainoo.

‘He would walk through teams’

His quick feet might have come as a surprise to United fans who have only seen him as a deep-lying central midfielder, but not to those who have followed his career from a young age.

Mainoo started his football career with local side Cheadle and Gatley JFC in Greater Manchester, at just five years old.

Steve Vare coached Mainoo when the player was six – and knew even then he had someone special on his hands.

“I have had other kids who were exceptional at that age that have not gone on to the levels he has,” Vare told BBC Sport. “You think he is a good player. You try and test and challenge him, even at that young age.

Kobbie Mainoo

Kobbie Mainoo celebrated in front of the away fans at Molineux after snatching three points for the visitors

“It was quite obvious when Kobbie came down that he was strong, quick, good with the ball at his feet. I had to try and challenge him by loading the teams up so all the better kids were on the other team to make it a challenge for him. I then started to play him against the older boys, to challenge him.

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“At that age, he was already very quick. He used to accelerate really quickly with the ball and go past players. He was strong. He was wiry. He was hard to knock off the ball. At that age, it is kick-and-run football but he used to keep it very close to his feet. He used to weave in and out of cones and challenges where the ball is stuck to his feet.

“You would have kids where they would just boot the ball or weren’t that interested in the coaching element, just playing matches. Kobbie was always keen to listen and learn.

“You just knew you had to put the better players on the opposing team to try and challenge him. He would walk through teams, scoring six or seven goals.

“We used to give a man-of-the-match award at the end of every session. You could have given it to him every week. You had to give it to the most improved player rather than him dominating all the time.”

‘He gives me Seedorf vibes’

Vare spoke to Mainoo’s father Felix and told him to get his son into a professional academy. The youngster joined Manchester United and the rest is history.

Of the youngsters currently playing for Cheadle and Gatley, where Vare is now a committee member, he said: “It gives everyone a boost that they could be the next Kobbie Mainoo.”

Mainoo’s status already at United is that of the academy lad come good. It is a mantle he has inherited from Rashford.

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And in Mainoo, they seem to have unearthed another local talent who is here to stay.

“One minute I’m on the floor and then Kobbie Mainoo produces a moment that we have seen in the academy before,” former United defender Rio Ferdinand said on TNT Sports after the Wolves win in February. “He has translated that into senior football and he deserves his flowers.

“The composure that this kid shows at this level stands out immensely in his game. In the youth team he has always looked like a class player, and to translate that into the first team without an issue is the sign of someone who has a bright future. He understands the standards that are set here and the history and everything.

“I’m not saying he is the same player or of the same ability but he gives me vibes of Clarence Seedorf. The way he can manoeuvre in tight situations and the way he manipulates the ball and uses his body at times. Elusive as well. Some people see the headlines and he just caresses it.”

Source: BBC


Mr Riddims

Mr Riddims, CEO of Riddims Ghana Network who is a Blogger | Artiste Promoter | Website Designer | Radio DJ | Artiste Manager | Music Distributer etc.

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