Manchester United and England star Marcus Rashford has released a heartfelt statement in the aftermath of Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy.
He was one of three players who missed penalties during a dramatic penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium and, disgracefully, has been subjected to racist abuse online since.
Boris Johnson used this evening’s press conference to condemn the racist abuse of England players, telling those responsible to “crawl back under the rock from which you emerged”.
But several current and former players have pointed the finger at his administration for adding fuel to the fire.
This evening Tyrone Mings hit out at home secretary Priti Patel after she called taking the knee “gesture politics”.
He said: “You don’t get to stoke the fire and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against happens,” after she posted her outrage at the racist abuse.
Gary Neville also called out top government officials during an interview, saying:
“It starts at the very top and so for me, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that I woke up this morning to those headlines.
“I expected that the minute the three players that missed miss. The fact of the matter is there is an issue obviously in football there is an issue in society where we feel it’s acceptable basically to criticise players for sporting actions because of the colour of their skin.”
Rashford, who has been vocal about receiving racist abuse in the past, penned a deeply personal statement on social media this evening.
He also attached personal letters he has received following the game, one of which came from a nine-year-old boy who told him he had “inspired him”.
Read Rashford’s passionate and emotional words in full here:
“I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I’m feeling at this exact time. 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 feel quite right. During the long run up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted.
“I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I’d let everyone down. A penalty was all I’d been asked to contribute for the team. I can penalties in my sleep so why not that one? It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry.
“I wish it had of gone differently. Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shoot out my team-mates. This summer has been one of the best camps I’ve experienced and you’ve all played a role in that. A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine.
“I’ve grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch. 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.
“I’ve felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands. I dreamt of days like this.
“The messages I’ve received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears. 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 I have that.
“For all the kind messages, thank you. I’ll be back strong. We’ll be back stronger.”