A club steeped in history and tradition, Manchester United have long prided themselves on their development of youth, handing opportunities to young stars on the big stage.
From the Busby Babes, to the Class of ’92, to the modern crop of young talent to have come through the academy – i.e Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford – the Red Devils have been the frontrunners in promoting youth and have seen their fair share of teenage sensations.
With that in mind – and with United’s Europa League semi-final, second-leg clash with AS Roma to come – let’s take a look at the five players to have scored the most European goals for the Red Devils while still in their teens:
Brian Kidd – 3
Few men can claim to being loved on both sides of the Manchester divide, yet Brian Kidd is certainly one of that select bunch, the Englishman having served both club’s admirably in a hugely successful career on the pitch and in the dugout.
The current Manchester City assistant coach – who also held the same position at United between 1991 and 1998 – joined the Red Devils academy as a youngster back in 1964, before going on to become part of the first-team a few years later, as Sir Matt Busby continued his rebuild of a side that had been so tragically torn apart by the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.
After making his senior debut in the Charity Shield against Tottenham Hotspur in August 1967, Kidd would go on to net his first European goal as an 18-year-old in a 2-0 quarter-final, first-leg victory over Polish side Gornik Zabrze, the striker bagging a crucial 90th minute goal for his side.
The Red Devils would then see off La Liga giants Real Madrid in the last four, before edging past Benfica in the final, United netting three times in extra-time to win 4-1, with Kidd bagging his side’s third on what was his 19th birthday.
The forward finished the 1967/68 campaign with a hugely impressive 17 goals in 50 games, before netting only four the following year, one of which was a strike in a European Cup second round win over Anderlecht.
Kidd departed the club in 1974 following relegation, spending time at Arsenal, Man City, Everton and Bolton, before ending his career in the sunshine in the U.S.
Wayne Rooney – 4
It’s not too great a claim to suggest that no teenager has ever made quite as impressive an impact as that of ‘Wazza’, the relentless forward bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Everton in 2002, before joining United two years later following a breathtaking performance at Euro 2004.
Having seen his goalscoring heroics in Portugal cut short due to injury, the Englishman was forced to wait to make his Red Devils debut, eventually lining up for his first game in the Champions League against Fenerbache in September 2004.
Any doubts over whether he would be hit in Manchester were quickly put to bed as he delighted under the floodlights at Old Trafford, the £25.6m man netting a stunning hat-trick in a 6-2 thrashing, with all three efforts coming outside the box, including a superb curling free-kick.
While Sir Alex Ferguson’s men ended that season trophyless, it was fine debut campaign on a personal note for the youngster, having netted 17 goals in all competitions.
The explosive forward started the next campaign in similar fashion, netting his fourth European strike as a teenager in a 3-0 win over Hungarian side Debreceni VSC in the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Although that season once again ended in disappointment for the Red Devils, everything appeared to click into place in 2006, as the Rooney-Ronaldo partnership really began to blossom and the rest, as they say, is history.
Marcus Rashford – 6
The current United star and all-round good guy has been the real bright spark amid some trying times in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, the pacy forward having risen from relative obscurity to become almost a household name overnight.
With Louis van Gaal’s then United side struggling with an injury crisis on the eve of a Europa League second-leg clash with FC Midtjylland in 2016, the 18-year-old was drafted into the matchday squad, before being thrust into the starting lineup after Anthony Martial was struck down with injury in the warm-up.
As fate would have it and with the Red Devils behind in the tie, Rashford popped up with two calmly taken second-half goals to make the difference, before securing his status as a teenage sensation by netting twice on his Premier League debut against Arsenal just days later.
The following season saw Rashford add to his European goal tally as he netted two crucial strikes en route to the club’s Europa League triumph under Jose Mourinho, bagging an extra-time winner against Anderlecht in the quarter-finals, before scoring a sublime free-kick against Celta Vigo in the last four.
After netting on his Europa League, Premier League, FA Cup and international debuts, Rashford bagged on his Champions League bow the following season, netting in a 3-0 win over Basel before adding his last European striker as a teenager against Benfica.
The now 23-year-old currently has an impressive tally of 18 goals in European competition including eight so far this season, with six of those having come in the Champions League group stage alone.
George Best – 6
Among a plethora of great players to have adorned the famous red jersey, George Best stands alone as arguably the greatest talent the club has ever seen, the Northern Irishman a truly generational talent
Having joined the club’s youth set-up in 1961, the Belfast-born forward made his United debut two years later, before really making his mark in the 1964/65 campaign as Busby’s men claimed the title.
Best netted 14 goals in all competitions, including bagging two European goals as part of the club’s Inter-Cities Fairs Cup involvement.
After that breakthrough campaign, Best became a footballing sensation the following year after his dazzling displays during United’s passage to the European Cup semi-finals, the fleet-footed forward scoring twice in the preliminary round against HJK Helsinki.
The teenager then followed that up by truly announcing himself in the quarter-finals against Benfica, the 19-year-old netting a breathtaking brace in a 5-1 thrashing to send United into the final four.
His first of the night saw him rise above the opposition ‘keeper to head home, before showcasing his trademark dribbling prowess just minutes later, breezing past the Portuguese defence before slotting home into the far corner.
Although the Red Devils would go on to lose in the semi-finals to Real Madrid, they would once again topple Benfica two years later in the final, with Best eventually departing the club in 1974, spending the remainder of his playing days with brief spells at a succession of clubs across the globe.
Mason Greenwood – 7
Atop of the pile is United’s latest precocious talent, Mason Greenwood, the academy product having earned huge admirers for his lethal finishing prowess after breaking into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side last season.
While he had made his debut in that win over Paris Saint-Germain in the 2018/19 campaign, it was the following year where he really made his mark. He netted his first goal for the club in a 1-0 win over Astana in the Europa League, becoming the Red Devils’ youngest ever goalscorer in European competition at the age of 17 years and 353 days.
Greenwood followed that up by netting against both Partizan Belgrade and AZ Alkmaar in the group stage, while also scoring from an acute angle in the knockout phase against LASK as Solskjaer’s men reached the semi-finals.
The versatile forward ended the 2019/20 campaign having scored 17 goals in all competitions, with no United teenager having ever registered more in a single season, matching the tallies of Rooney, Best and Kidd.
Although the England international made a quieter start this term, he still found the target in the 5-0 trashing of RB Leipzig for his first Champions League goal, while he also netted the sixth in the club’s 6-2 thrashing of AS Roma last week, courtesy of a typically composed finish with his right foot.
The young starlet is currently on ten goals for the season in all competitions after some recent good form and has an outside chance of earning a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championship this summer.