What Marcus Rashford’s fellow pros have said about his selfless activism

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2020 is turning out to be a remarkable year for Manchester United‘s Marcus Rashford in more ways than one.

Rashford notched his first-ever career hat-trick in a half-hour substitute appearance off the bench in the 5-0 mauling of RB Leipzig and looks on track to beat last season’s career-best tally of 22 goals in all competitions.

But while he’s hitting new heights on the pitch, his most impressive work is arguably coming off it, as a committed activist lobbying to provide free meals for deprived schoolchildren.

His petition to end child poverty and provide meals during the half-term holidays has reached over a million signatures, while businesses around the country have been inspired to step-up and provide free meals to kids in their communities after the Conservative government have refused to back down.

Rashford’s selflessness has earned plenty of admiration within the game, even from those who would normally consider themselves fierce rivals. Here’s what’s his fellow professionals from within the world of football have said about him.

Jurgen Klopp

“I am not sure I can find any better words than much smarter people have said. But what Marcus has started there is absolutely incredible, it is so nice,” Klopp said.

“And with all the rivalry between the clubs, in these moments we are as footballers and as human beings always united.

“It’s just nice to show in a time when obviously a lot of people who are really in charge of something don’t show any sign of proper leadership.

“He is a boy grown up in difficult circumstances and blessed with sensational talent, obviously. But he never forgot his roots and where he is coming from. It’s just a shame that he has to do it.”

Frank Lampard

“It’s been great to see young players with personality, with a voice, speaking up for things that they care passionately about. I absolutely commend him for that.

“There are a group of players now in the Premier League – doesn’t matter what age or what team you play for – that are speaking out in the right way. It’s been fantastic and he deserves credit for it.”

Joe Cole

“What a lad. At that age, to have that social awareness to understand what’s needed, it’s great to see people from all cities getting together to help him,” Cole told BT Sport.

“It’s a disgrace really that the government are not backing him again. Massive respect, I think we should all be proud of him, he’s a footballer, he’s in our industry.”

Joleon Lescott

In the same clip, Lescott also spoke of his admiration of Rashford on BT Sport: “Role model, an iconic role model.

“Someone I look up to, even though I’m older than him. Credit to him and his family.”

Pep Guardiola

Offering his response to those who suggested footballers should stick to playing the game, Guardiola said: “Because maybe these stupid people don’t believe you are human beings too.

“We can have an opinion the same as a nurse, a doctor or even a politician. What we are, we are humans and why shouldn’t we say our opinion when you believe you can make a better society, when you are public.

“What Raheem Sterling has done many times, players in our club, Marcus Rashford or whoever, of course they have to use these platforms to make a better society. They don’t need to get more money – fortunately for them they have enough – so they do it to get a better place to live, for their families, for our kids, for the next generations.

“So that is always why, when the people say it is not enough, of course it isn’t but let’s start from here. I admire a lot these kind of gestures because they do it for all of us.”

READ: Six times Marcus Rashford was a better person than all of us put together

Eric Dier

“We had a team meeting before training as we normally do,” Dier said, having been called up to the latest England squad alongside Rashford.

“The manager gave a speech on everything that Marcus has done, congratulated him and we gave him a round of applause.

“For him to put everything into a cause that is so close to his heart, and for him to effect change in the way he has, he is a fantastic role model for not only kids — but us as players as well.

“What Marcus has done will show players that we can all have in effecting change in a positive way in a subjects that matter dearly to us.”

Gareth Southgate

“It’s wonderful for him and the family, but he didn’t start this project to get the recognition,” the England manager said. “He started it because it was something he was affected by and cared passionately about.

“For someone his age to make the difference he has is a phenomenal achievement. We have watched him grow up — I say that but he’s still only 22! You can only marvel at what he has achieved.”

Troy Deeney

We’ll leave it to the man himself…

Jamie Carragher

“Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford’s charity work during the lockdown is extraordinary, raising £20million in donations via his partnership with FareShare, set up to fight food poverty and waste,” Carragher wrote in his Telegraph column.

“When I fully established myself in the Liverpool team at the turn of the Millennium, I was always willing and ready to speak honestly about the game and performance, but I could not imagine diving into interviews about global politics,” he added.

“Today’s players use their voice to push for social change, which means putting themselves on a pedestal where they know they will be targeted or told they should stick to football.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“We as a club are immensely proud of him. He is not only a top footballer but also a fantastic human being,” the United manager said during the summer. “Future captain, maybe of England and Manchester United.

“He has changed the lives of so many kids this summer, which is more important than any game of football he will probably play. So hopefully he can keep up both sides (of his life) as well as he is doing now.”

Liam Cooper

Leeds United’s captain pledged a £25,000 donation from the Leeds United squad, which was then matched by the club itself, while the fans raised in excess of £50,000 for foodbanks as they boycotted the £15 Premier League PPV service.

Jose Mourinho

“He did amazingly well, I congratulate him for that,” his former manager told talkSPORT.

“It’s a bit strange for me that one football player can make it happen – if it happened then that means the government thinks it’s the right thing to do.

“They shouldn’t wait for one player to publicly put pressure on for that to happen. The 18-year-old that I met a few years ago is now a man and a man with principles to fight for kids very similar to him when he was a kid.

“That is something very, very nice from Marcus.”

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