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18th Aug 2015

Memphis announces himself on the European stage with echoes of a young Rooney

He's here to stay...

Nooruddean Choudry

European football can intimidate or inspire. There is something about the night sky, the floodlights, the standards and the anthem that serve to separate princes from pretenders.

11 years ago, an 18-year-old Wayne Rooney instantly showed the world that he truly belonged on such a stage when he marked his Manchester United debut against Fenerbahce in epic fashion.

Shirt torn at the neckline, he scored a European hat-trick of such remarkable quality that it barely seemed possible that a debutant teenager could achieve such things. It was the greatest debut that Old Trafford had ever seen.

On Tuesday night, under the very same floodlights and aside a now veteran Rooney, another young player came of age before of a legion of new fans. His name? Memphis.

It may have not have been the 21-year-old’s United debut – nor did he quite manage a third – but a brace of such rare technical beauty on his European bow was enough to announce his arrival.

The first goal especially was a sensational effort, and was so much more than the final, lethal shot.

The instant control, the dink over a hapless defender’s head, and the clarity of thought to carry the ball into a goalscoring position before unleashing his finish was a mark of utter class.

Prior to the game against Club Brugge, Memphis had seemed irritated, almost angry with himself, against both Spurs and Aston Villa. It was as if he felt he was behind schedule and needed to deliver straight away.

On Tuesday night, with the world watching, he showed his stuff, and how.

The Dutchman had stressed to everyone upon joining United that he wished to be referred to as Memphis, not Depay – the name he gained from an estranged father.

Two goals that went a long way to ensuring Champions League football at Old Trafford this season were enough to ensure we remember his name – just like we did young Rooney.