Six times Obama heaped praise on Rashford

Friday 28 May 2021 16:24

It is not often a Manchester United player has an audience with a US President, so we are bursting with pride that Marcus Rashford has attracted the attention – and praise – of Barack Obama.

In a Zoom conversation organised by Penguin Books, the pair discussed some of the themes in the President’s memoir, A Promised Land, including the power that young people have to make change, the positive impact that reading can have and the importance of giving back to your community.

Marcus also opened up about his new book, You Are A Champion, which he hopes will inspire young supporters to read more and broaden their horizons. 

Here, we highlight everything that former president Obama said about our homegrown hero…

“If I had more talent, I would have probably preferred to be a professional athlete like Marcus but I wasn't strong, fast or quick enough, or gifted enough. For me it was basketball, though, that was my true love.”

“From what I have read about what Marcus is doing, he is taking his own experiences and he has realised, 'I have now been blessed, I have the good fortune of being this prominent footballer and people pay attention to what I say, so how do I give back and take what I know about living in modest means, not having enough to eat all of the time, there are kids like that who are feeling the same, so what can I do for them?' Like Marcus, we all find out own paths to that kind of service and if enough young people do that then that is how progress gets made, and that is how we move forward. My hope is that when people read the book, they recognise that nobody is destined to be president, nobody is destined to have an impact, it is a matter of you taking the risk and taking the chance to make the difference.”


“Marcus, I think, is way ahead of where I was when I was 23. I was still trying to figure things out.”

“What is clear is that we all have different paths to serve. I think Marcus is a good example of somebody who is passionate about a sport, excelled in it, it gave him a platform and now he is looking for new challenges, while still being one of the best in his sport. What I tell young people is that whatever chosen profession you have, you still have the capacity to give back.”

“Marcus was saying that reading and knowledge is a way of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. It's a little bit like training in sport, right? We used to use this corny phrase, 'no pain, no gain', but if you are training, your body goes through some discomfort in order to get to that next stage. In each stage of your football career, there have been times when you have tried something you haven't done before, you are uncomfortable, it is not working as well. Your instinct is to fall back on doing the same things you always did, but if you don't put yourself through that discomfort, take that risk and try something new, then you are not getting better. The same thing that applies to sport and society, and your influence in it, I want all young people to understand it is worth taking that risk because the world needs you.”


“A lot of the young people I meet, including Marcus, are ahead of where I was when I was 23 and they are already making changes, being positive forces in their communities and countries. The whole purpose of the Obama Foundation is to work with young leaders around the world and in the United States, and encourage their voices, mentor them, give them opportunities to scale up the work they are already doing, but what I constantly try to counsel is patience. One of the great things about being young is being impatient, you want to get stuff done right away, but when you start dealing with issues like hunger in communities, or conflict in certain countries, or big environment issues like climate change, these are issues that take years and sometimes decades to have a big impact. You can have a localised impact and that is important, but I find that sometimes young people get frustrated when change doesn't happen overnight... I try to remind them you can’t let impatience turn into cynicism, resignation or discouragement. You have to constantly sustain yourself by knowing each time I do something positive, even on a small scale, that is making a difference and it is the accumulation of people doing positive things over time that makes us a little bit better with each generation. So, I always tell young people, don't be too hard on yourself if, after important work, you don't get 100 per cent of what you are hoping for, because a lot of times progress is two steps forward and one step back.”

Keep going, Marcus: