Marcus Rashford: ‘I will never apologise for who I am’

England player apologises for penalty in statement against racist abuse on social media

Marcus Rashford reacts after missing his penalty for England in the Euro 2020 final against Italy. Photo: John Sibley/AFP via Getty Images

Marcus Rashford reacts after missing his penalty for England in the Euro 2020 final against Italy. Photo: John Sibley/AFP via Getty Images

 

The England forward Marcus Rashford has apologised after missing a penalty during England’s Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy on Sunday, while expressing pride in the team’s achievements at the tournament, and his background as “a 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester”.

The Manchester United player, who received racial abuse on social media after the match along with teammates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, also posted letters of support he has received from fans after England’s heartbreaking defeat.

In a moving message on Twitter, Rashford wrote: “I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I am 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 score 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.”

Rashford praised the England squad for building an “unbreakable” bond during the tournament, adding: “Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout 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.”

The 23-year-old, whose mural in the Manchester suburb of Withington was defaced after his penalty miss before being covered in messages of support, promised he would come back stronger. “I’ve grown into a sport where I expected 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,” Rashford said, in reference to his campaign against homelessness and child hunger in the UK.

“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 stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”

One of the letters of support to Rashford said: “I hope you won’t be sad for too long because you are such a good person. Last year you inspired me to help people less fortunate. Then last night you inspired me again, to always be brave. I’m proud of you, you will always be a hero.” – Guardian

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