Marcus Rashford is in sensational form for Manchester United.
Since returning from the World Cup, the 25-year-old has scored 10 goals in as many games to take his tally to 18 for the season.
The England international has already found the net 13 times more than he did in the entire 2021/22 campaign and is undoubtedly back to his best under new United manager Erik ten Hag.
Rashford’s latest strike, a stunning solo effort in Wednesday’s 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final, has put United on course to appear in the final at Wembley next month, but it’s not just his goals that have got the football world talking in recent weeks.
Since top-flight football resumed at the end of December, Rashford has adopted a new celebration every time he scores. You’ve almost certainly seen it, but what does it mean?
A reference to mental health?
Rashford sits still, closes his eyes and points his index finger to his temple after scoring a goal. While he has yet to explain why he’s celebrating this way, it’s possibly to demonstrate the clearer headspace he has compared to last season.
Speaking to Sky Sports in October, Rashford opened up about his feelings and revealed he had struggled with his mental health during the 2021/22 campaign, which affected his performances on the pitch.
“Sometimes I was struggling with more mental things,” Rashford said after scoring United’s winner against West Ham.
“It wasn’t really my own performance, it was other things off the pitch. That’s the biggest difference from last season. Too often last season, I wasn’t in the right space for games. No I was surprised by some things. that was happening.”
Rashford’s career at Old Trafford has certainly reached new heights since he made those comments. His new celebration could suggest how those dark times are behind him.
Rashford’s celebration inspires others
While the exact reasoning behind Rashford’s celebration remains unclear, it seems he has inspired other professional athletes around the world, not just in football.
Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka also took aim after scoring against United in the Premier League last Sunday, while Newcastle midfielder Joelinton celebrated in similar fashion as Newcastle beat the Southampton in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
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Joshua Kimmich celebrated in similar fashion after his stunning 90th-minute goal rescued Bayern Munich a draw against Cologne in the Bundesliga on Tuesday. Before that, Chesterfield’s Armando Dobra copied Rashford’s move during a 3-3 draw with West Brom in the FA Cup third round.
Away from football, England fast bowler Jofra Archer put his finger to his head and closed his eyes after taking a wicket in South Africa’s SA20 competition.
With Rashford in the form of his life and others showing their respect, his inspirational celebration shows no signs of dying down anytime soon.