Inspired by Ronaldinho and influenced by Manchester United duo Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes, Kobbie Mainoo wants to emulate Jude Bellingham

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England’s ‘wild card’ for Euro 2024, Kobbie Mainoo will have the nation’s eyes upon him during the international break.

Called up to Gareth Southgate’s squad for friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, the 18-year-old has had a rapid rise to stardom.

Mainoo is looking like a future superstar and England don't want to miss out

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Mainoo is looking like a future superstar and England don’t want to miss outCredit: Getty

Making his first team debut last season with a handful of appearances, the midfielder has quickly become a regular this term, and is showing why Erik ten Hag rates him so highly.

Last time out Mainoo starred in a 4-3 season-saving FA Cup quarter-final win over Liverpool, convincing many he’s here to stay.

Southgate was one of those and Mainoo is now attempting to get his feet under the table at St George’s Park after heralding his call.

Speaking to talkSPORT, he said: “It’s been a crazy couple of days, first the Liverpool game, then being called up to the 21s, then the first team, a mad couple of days.

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“Having people you know and familiar faces is always good but the rest of the lads have been really welcoming as well and made me feel very comfortable. I know a few of the lads from playing against them, I’d spoken to Cole [Palmer] a couple of times.

“It would be an honour to make the plane [for Euro 2024] but just to be on the pitch would be enough for me.

“There’s a lot of time between now and then and I think if I go back to my club and perform well and do what I need to do hopefully it will all align.”

Mainoo has been performing for United since the age of seven, and is a Red Devils fan.

Mainoo stunned against vastly more experienced Liverpool midfielders

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Mainoo stunned against vastly more experienced Liverpool midfieldersCredit: Getty

However, it was a former Barcelona star that inspired him rather than a fellow Mancunian.

“I think everyone is a Ronaldinho fan, how can you not be?” he said of his idol growing up. 

Mark Goldbridge hails Manchester United youngsters Hojlund, Garnacho and Mainoo, and discusses the career paths of former stars Sancho and Lingard

“He was a great player. He played with a smile on his face and played freely. Brazil is a country with such history in football with such an iconic team so to play against them would be amazing.”

At United, he’s able to learn off some of the game’s best, and has credited his fellow midfielders with helping him progress in such a short amount of time.

Mainoo was inspired by Ronaldinho, one of football's icons

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Mainoo was inspired by Ronaldinho, one of football’s iconsCredit: getty

“I’d say Bruno [Fernandes] or Casemiro [have helped the most],” he said. “Playing in midfield with them has helped me so much and they have a lot of experience. 

“They’re great players who have had great careers so picking up things from them is the best. 

“There’s so much, they’re always trying to help and put an arm around me in any way they can.”

With England, he’s able to learn from people who have made the kind of steps he has far more recently, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka.

“To follow in the footsteps of them would be amazing, they’ve come up and stayed up so quickly and they’re both great players,” Mainoo added.

Mainoo can learn from the world's best while with England

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Mainoo can learn from the world’s best while with EnglandCredit: Getty

Yet despite the praise for many of his peers, Mainoo has to take much of the credit himself, with both Ten Hag and Southgate talking up his character off the pitch.

“I think it’s credit to my parents and my siblings the way I was brought up, always good manners,” he explained.

“I think [it’s also] wanting to improve and knowing that to improve you have to listen to coaches and players with more experience than you.

“I understand that I can pick up a lot of great things from players around me at United and players here and it’s a quality that I have to have to get better.”

Even if Mainoo does feature in both of England’s March friendlies, we could still see the youngster turning out for Ghana in the future.

Eligible to also play for the African nation, Mainoo is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to making a final call on which country he plays for long-term.

“I’m proud of my Ghanaian heritage but playing for England is an amazing honour for me too so I’m just enjoying the experience,” he said.

But with so much up in the air, he’s sure of his short term goals.

“I want to establish myself as a Premier League player and keep on improving and getting better and see what happens,” he finished.

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