Tag Archives: Marcus Rashford

Nike Football Presents – Strike Night

Strike Night is a must-see event if you want to experience some of Europe’s top players showing off their street football skills.

The Collins’ Music Hall in Islington hosted Nike’s inaugural Strike Night, where flair and clinical finishing to score points are the name of the game.

The judges on the night included Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, Arsenal great Ian Wright and UK rappers Dave and AJ Tracey.

Strike Night was hosted by Poet and David Vujanic who also host for the Copa 90 YouTube channel.

The talent on display included Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marcus Rashford, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Christian Benteke, Alex Iwobi, Mauro Icardi, Andre Silva and Thibault Courtois.

There was also top names in the audience, including Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertongen.

Rules and scoring

Each player has five attempts to score in a specially-made goal with a scoring system that gives points depending on where the ball lands.

The main task is to strike a ball into the net as it was pumped into the striker from a machine.

Judges can award an extra 100 or 500 points for a goal or attempt that involves enough skill and flair to get a crowd on their feet.

A long-range strike that goes into the top corner gets the player a 1,000 points, the maximum for a single strike.

The goal used in the Strike Night event costs over £400,000 which is no surprise as it has its own scoring system built in and even seems to have a bit of personality itself.

Viewers watching via Facebook also had an opportunity to increase the participants score adding an extra 500 points to the chosen player.

Each round a player is represented by a heart or like button on Facebook and whoever receive the most Likes or Hearts got the bonus 500 points.

The fixtures and showdown

The only time we normally get to see these top talents come up against each other is in Champions or Europa League matches, so this was a great opportunity to watch six deadly strikers from across Europe going head to head.

Iwobi was a late replacement for Rashford who arrived late after some delays getting to the venue but still managed to get involved.

The Strike Night event was also promoting Nike’s latest Hypervenom III Black/Metallic/Silver as three levels of crowd looked on in a location buried beneath the streets of London.

The fixtures on the night of the first round featured Aubameyang vs Benteke, Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Icardi and Iwobi vs Andre Silva.

The semi-final round included Silva vs Icardi, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was given a second chance as he finished as best loser of the first round and also he was a wildcard to face Rashford after his late arrival.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s defeat to Rashford earned the Manchester United forward a place in the final four against Aubameyang.

To add a little twist to the final, the tournament made a substitution of keepers from the Nike Academy’s goalkeeper, who received a lot of praise from the judges as he made several great saves against top quality players.

He was replaced by Chelsea number one Courtois to increase the difficulty for the finale.


Despite, Rashford’s late arrival, he still manages to defeat Borussia Dortmund’s current top goalscorer to face Silva, who defeated Icardi in the other semi-final, which had the most goals on the night and featured the goal of the night.

The final itself was very intense with a lot of misses, perhaps because of the presence of Courtois, with both players knowing it might just take something special to score past him.

Silva was announced as the winner unanimously after great acrobatic goals and even got awarded the extra 500 points from the Facebook viewers.

He had what the judges were looking for and that was flair and goals. Rashford struck the ball well, aiming for simpler finishes, but that didn’t get the crowd jumping which is the aim of Strike Night.


The Strike Night setting was striking and futuristic, and Nike definitely have an interesting show for people who love football and in many ways are bringing back that ‘Joga Bonito’ element they promoted a few years ago.

The judges weren’t afraid to dish out the verbals and criticise players, and Strike Night is an event with an underlining competitive edge, not to mention a fresh way to showcase both players and product.

Hitting the net might have been the aim, but head-over-heels showboating was very much the name of the game, with all the players wanting to outshine each other and become Strike Night Champion.

To round off a memorable night, Santan Dave and AJ Tracey hit the stage followed by Section Boyz in a showdown that was full of energy and hype which is what UK rap is about.

With more events planned, who knows what skills we can expect to see on the Strike Night stage, with rumours that Hazard, Anthony Martial and Kane could potentially feature in the next one.

To catch highlights of Nike’s first Strike Night click here

Why Rashford should pay heed to Macheda’s tale

Marcus Rashford’s flying start to his Manchester United career has made headlines but also prompted words of caution from many football fans.

The 18-year-old attacking midfielder, a product of United’s famed academy, hit two goals on his surprise debut in the Europa League tie against Danish side Mydjaelland and followed up with another brace as United beat title hopefuls Arsenal 3-2 just three days later.

The media are already hyping him as one of Europe’s brightest young talents alongside the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mahmoud Dahoud, Alessio Romagnoli, Daniel Rugani, Paul Pogba and Harry Kane.

But Rashford, and those advising him, would do well to remember the story of another Old Trafford prospect.

In April 2009, a little-known Italian named Federico Macheda made his debut for United against Aston Villa, coming on for Nani after 60 minutes.

‘The new Ronaldo’

The 17-year-old had his shooting boots on that day, and his curling effort in the dying seconds of the match secured all three points for the hosts. The goal itself was poetry in motion.

“Macheda is simply no longer on the radar of most football fans”

A new star had seemingly been born, with many Red Devils fans proclaiming they had the new Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks.

Fast forward six years, and Macheda is now at Cardiff City, who signed him on a free transfer after his release by United in 2014.

He never lived up to the early promise of that dazzling Old Trafford debut and was loaned out to various clubs including QPR, Doncaster Rovers and Birmingham City.

An unused substitute in the Bluebirds’ recent win over Preston North End, Macheda is simply no longer on the radar of most football fans.


So where did it go wrong for the player known as ‘Kiko’?

He certainly had the talent, and then was given his chance to shine alongside team-mates such as Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Ryan Giggs, Edwin van der Sar and Patrice Evra.

And, of course, the man who trusted in him to make the most of that opportunity was legendary former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

In footballing terms, Macheda was blessed with electric pace, outstanding shooting ability and trickery on the ball, all capped off with the smart presence of Ronaldo who, six years his senior, he looked up to on and off the pitch.

But he didn’t seize his chance, nor realise the luck that was surrounding him at the time.


From Ronaldo he only seemed to be willing to copy the looks, the cars and the success with women – not the hard graft, dedication, self-belief and ambition of the Portuguese.

Macheda appeared to start believing the hype surrounding him after his burst onto the scene and did not keep working hard enough.

“For ‘Kiko’ Macheda, meanwhile, there will always be an acute sense of what might have been”

And while Ronaldo soon left for Real Madrid and the Bernabéu, his protege eventually ended up at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.

He also had loan spells at more prestigious clubs including Sampdoria and VfB Stuttgart, but never did enough to impress, always heading back to Manchester where his future looked increasingly less bright.

Perhaps you’d expect Macheda to at least make the difference in Wales? Well don’t because his appearances in manager Russell Slade’s Cardiff starting XI are sporadic.


How would his career have turned out if he hadn’t he beaten Brad Friedel with that strike in April 2009? Would he have been given the time to mature? Would he have fared better away from the spotlight?

“If he starts thinking ‘job done’, he will go down the same road as Macheda and be languishing at a lesser club before long”

Nobody will ever know. Perhaps when you grace your debut with a stunning winner and are embraced by Cristiano Ronaldo in front of 60,000 adoring fans, it’s hard not to believe you’ve already made it.

Time will tell whether Manchester-born Rashford has the strength of character to go with his talent, and if he can avoid the many pitfalls that lay in wait for talented young footballers.

His manager Louis van Gaal said: “Youngsters often play well in the first match. The second is different. Marcus played well in both, so he is a special talent.”


For ‘Kiko’ Macheda, meanwhile, there will always be an acute sense of what might have been.

He will turn 25 in August, and at this point a reversal of fortunes in his career seems unlikely. Seven years marked by backward steps have gone by since that never-to-be forgotten debut.

With the thrills sometimes come the spills, and Macheda’s rapid rise and fall should serve as a warning to Rashford.

Is his a Wayne Rooney-like career in the making or a Macheda-like one? It can go either way for Rashford. He is the GPS of his own destiny.

If he starts thinking ‘job done’, he will go down the same road as Macheda and be languishing at a lesser club before long.

What another waste of talent that would be. United fans will know better than to get ahead of themselves this time.

Image courtesy of Apasciuto courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons