Marcus Rashford’s defaced mural is currently under repair after being emblazoned with heartfelt messages of support, adoration and affection in his hometown of Manchester.
It comes after the 23-year-old footballer released a statement saying he will never apologise for who he is after the word “F**k* was scrawled over the artwork in Withington.
The artwork is now being repainted by artist Akse, who originally designed the beloved portrait.
The Marcus Rashford is being repaired by street artist Akse pic.twitter.com/TgglVMBEzN— Steve Allen (@SteveAllenPics) July 13, 2021
“I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”
Rashford’s statement began with a moving apology for his missed penalty at the Euros 2021 final last Sunday:
“I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s been clear for everyone to see, and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence. I’ve always backed myself for a penalty but something didn’t quite feel right.
“Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it could have gone differently.”
Following his apology, Rashford then went on to address the abuse he had received in the wake of the vandalism of the mural, saying he refused to apologise for who he is.
“I’ve grown into a sport where I expect to read thing written about myself. Whether is be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch,” he said.
You know, there’s a lot wrong with our country… but there’s quite a lot right too: https://t.co/GzKfXk6zXg— Tim Farron (@timfarron) July 13, 2021
“I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from. The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up.
“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else to say I have that.
“For all the kind messages, thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”
Midnight in Withington. Quiet, peaceful, powerful. pic.twitter.com/ab7W7tEW0N— Simon Clancy (@SiClancy) July 12, 2021
This is how the Marcus Rashford mural in Withington looks this morning ♥️ pic.twitter.com/vSsUx6gIcu— Sophie Halle-Richards (@sophiehrMEN) July 13, 2021
“I’m proud of you, you will always be a hero”
Alongside his statement, the England footballer shared a number of heartwarming letters penned by young fans inspired by Rashford’s conduct both on and off the pitch.
One letter, written by nine-year-old Dexter Rosier, in which he tells England star that he will “always be a hero”, has since gone viral.
Rashford, who has garnered national admiration both for his footballing prowess and campaigning for free school meals during the height of lockdown, has been flooded with messages of solidarity and love online.
“Continue inspiring. Continue making a difference. We’re extremely proud of you,” read a tweet from the official England account.
This comes after Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho suffered an onslaught of racist abuse online, since met with a petition calling for a ban on all racists entering football matches in England, which has accumulated over 500k signatures.