"Jose (Mourinho) wouldn't mess around, but he picks him in all the big games and is on the field in almost every game", Southgate said.
Watching Brazilian striker Ronaldo score a Champions League hat trick for Real Madrid against Manchester United 14 years ago provided a lasting inspiration for Marcus Rashford, the England forward said on Monday.
The young Englishman has now reacted to Ronaldo's words, admitting he is flattered to have received such a compliment from one of the best strikers to ever play the game.
"I see some of myself in him", said Ronaldo.
"It's fantastic really that he's been a player who's been able to dip under the radar as we think so much of him, not only his ability, but his mentality and his maturity", Southgate told British media.
"No matter where he was playing, he played free and went out there and expressed himself". "I will always remember it".
"I think you do that naturally".
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Rashford added: "He was a top player who won a lot of things, so when he's saying good things about you, it really stands out. When you're young you watch clips of the best players in the world and try and emulate them - it just tends to happen naturally".
Southgate said the faith shown in Rashford by United manager Jose Mourinho and former England boss Roy Hodgson was a sign that they considered him a big-game player.
Over two legs, Real got the better of United - beating the Red Devils 6-5 on aggregate thanks largely to Ronaldo's virtuoso display in the 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford.
"He was also a top, top player". I bumped into Ronaldinho in the summer. "He's a really nice guy and obviously had a fantastic career". That is what sets the most risky strikers apart and why Rashford has an obviously special quality of his own.
Rashford said: "We are all massively excited for it. It's just about understanding each other's games and building those relationships, which you can do off the pitch as well".
"Not so many teams do that these days and it's not a problem that defenders have to face so often which can give you something that causes an opposition a fresh challenge".
"Like anything new, it takes a bit of getting used to". Ronaldo, 27 at the time, was already being described as past his best due to injuries and carrying those few extra timbers that became a feature at his career's end.
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