How love overcame hate at the Marcus Rashford mural
After Marcus Rashford's mural was vandalised on Monday morning, local residents in south Manchester came together to transform a moment of hatred into something beautiful, sticking messages of love and support over the graffiti.
Rashford was one of England's five penalty takers in Sunday evening's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy and saw his spot-kick cruelly cannon back off the left post. More devastated than any other England fan, by the time Marcus had left the stadium, vile racist abuse of him and England's other black players had begun, including the defacing of the mural.
The response has been heart-warming, with the black plastic originally covering up the graffiti in Withington now carrying hundreds of messages of support from the local community.
Fans show their love for Marcus at his mural
❤ True fans responded with love after a mural of Marcus was defaced in the wake of England's shootout defeat...
Some are short but sweet notes such as 'Role model', 'Inspiration' and 'Hero'. Others are longer letters hailing Rashford for his commitment and bravery on and off the pitch.
Rashford penned a letter on Monday evening in which he said, "seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears."
The mural to the 23-year-old was originally commissioned by community project Withington Walls and painted by street artist Akse. It can be found on the wall of Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street in Withington, about four miles from Old Trafford, the area where Rashford grew up before moving to Wythenshawe as a young child.
Many fans used it as an opportunity to show their support for all of England's players, not just Marcus. One message read, 'We love Rashford, Saka, Sancho', paying tribute to the three players who stood up to be counted for but saw penalties saved in the shoot-out.
What began as an act of hatred turned into the opposite, a demonstration of the love that Manchester and the world feels for our brilliant striker. One message offered an excellent summary.
"Thank you for your passion, compassion and desire to change lives."
In his statement on Monday evening, Rashford said, "the communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up."
For a young man who has continually sought to lift up those communities who helped him to where he is today, holding you up in challenging moments is the least we can do.