Marcus Rashford’s inspirational 2020
As a year, 2020 will not be remembered fondly by most in the UK and abroad, as the outbreak of COVID-19 brought a halt to normality as we know it.
No mixing of households, face-masks, social distancing and regular hand-washing became the norm in 2020, as football across the globe was brought to a stop in March.
Yet, in the midst of such worrying and uncertain times, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford saw an opportunity to change the world for the better.
The forward’s charity work - which he managed alongside his day job of being a Premier League footballer - has resulted in some truly transformational change for the UK’s children. Marcus single-handedly forced a Government U-turn (twice!) and ensured thousands of the country’s most vulnerable youngsters did not, and will not, go hungry.
Unsurprisingly, after such a remarkable achievement, the 23-year-old has received numerous awards and accolades to recognise his extraordinary acts of selflessness, including an MBE and an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester.
As 2020 draws to close, we’re reflecting on Marcus’s year and below have produced a timeline of some of the major events from his life over the past 12 months, both on and off the pitch…
Marcus sustained a back injury in January during an Emirates FA Cup victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers, At the time, it was estimated the problem would keep the attacker out for around two months. In the end, it proved to be much longer…
Our no.10 agreed to judge a children’s poetry competition for World Book Day.
Marcus shares his concerns with the world
On 19 March, a day after it was announced that schools would be closing across the UK, Rashford sent the following tweet, that would prove to be the spark which started the whole process:
Working with FareShare
Guys, across the UK there are over 32,000 schools. Tomorrow all of these will close. Many of the children attending these schools rely on free meals, so I’ve spent the last few days talking to organisations to understand how this deficit is going to be filled. (1) pic.twitter.com/3Iusr6E9kM— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) March 19, 2020
As the pandemic began to change day-to-day life, Marcus worked with food charity FareShare to provide free school-meals for children in the Greater Manchester region. “I am just trying to impact the next generation in a positive way,” he told the BBC.
The first of many awards
Marcus was awarded a High Sheriff Special Recognition Award on 27 May, to acknowledge his "outstanding contribution to the community of Greater Manchester during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”
Providing free meals
In April, the striker shared the news that, in partnership with FareShare, £20m worth of funds had been raised which would provide meals for three million people.
Marcus called for the Government to reverse the decision to not provide free school-meal vouchers for children over the summer holidays, in the form of an open letter addressed to MPs. The Academy graduate demanded the Government "make the U-turn and make protecting the lives of some of our most vulnerable a top priority”.
On 16 June, following a phone conversation with Marcus, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the implementation of the Covid summer food fund. The programme ensured about 1.3m children in England would receive free school-meal vouchers over the summer holidays. "I don't want this to be the end of it because there are more steps that need to be taken,” Marcus said at the time.
Our no.10 received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester, to recognise his outstanding work. He was the youngest-ever person to be presented with an honorary degree and followed in the steps of Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton.
Return from injury
Marcus played his first match in over five months when United returned to Premier League action on 19 June, during the return of top-flight football in England.
Goal of the Season
In September, Rashford topped United’s 2019/20 Goal of the Season vote, for his free-kick against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup. He also helped United finish in third place in the Premier League with some key performances.
Petitioning for change
Following the end of the free school-meals voucher scheme in the summer, Marcus launched a petition calling for the Government to extend the initiative into the autumn and winter months.
On 10 October, it was confirmed Marcus would receive an MBE as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours list. “As a young black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22,” he told us. “This is a very special moment for myself and my family, but particularly my mum who is the real deserving recipient of the honour.”
Second Government vote rejected
Despite Marcus’s campaigning, on 21 October, the Government rejected the motion to extend the provision of free school-meals by 322 votes to 261.
Social media campaign
Despite the government’s decision, countless organisations, companies and councils across the UK pledged to support Marcus’s campaign to provide free meals to the most vulnerable in society. Orchestrated by the attacker on social media, Rashford retweeted and posted information about those business across the UK who were willing to support. He also said he was “proud to call himself British” following the response.
Pride of Britain award
Upon receiving a Pride of Britain award, Marcus said: “I am extremely humbled but I'd like to think that I am receiving this award on behalf of all of the incredible people who have selflessly stepped up to support their communities during this pandemic.”
A United first for our boy
The man from Wythenshawe scored a maiden hat-trick for his boyhood club, in a Champions League win over RB Leipzig. Marcus was introduced from the bench in the 63rd minute and netted three as United earned a 5-0 win over the German side. It came after he bagged a second dramatic winner at Paris Saint-Germain in his young career.
Second Government U-turn
Having originally rejected the decision to extend the free school-meal vouchers, Marcus’s campaigning resulted in a second Government U-turn in November. It was confirmed the £400m winter grant would provide free meals until Easter 2021. "The steps made today will improve the lives of near 1.7 million children in the UK over the next 12 months, and that can only be celebrated,” a proud Rashford said.
Street artist Akse dedicated a mural to Rashford in Copson Street in Withington, Manchester.
Recognition from the North-West Football Awards
Marcus received the 'Impact Award’ at the 2020 North-West Football Awards, in honour of his outstanding charity work.
Children’s book club
The United man teamed up with Macmillan Children's Books to launch a book club in November. The Marcus Rashford Book Club will donate books to children across the UK, while it was announced the 23-year-old will help with the production of several titles.
Marcus was included in the 2020 Football Black List, an annual event which pays tribute to those from the black community who hold influential positions in football.
Sir Alex’s support
Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, along with associate Sir Michael Moritz, pledged to double all donations made to The Times newspaper's food charity as part of their Christmas appeal. “What Marcus has done is he’s led the way in a big way that, hopefully, people from the same position that Marcus is in today, as a successful footballer, can join in and support this great campaign of the moment,” said Sir Alex.
Rashford is a Red!
Marcus said it “wouldn't sit right” to pull on another shirt, upon receiving the Sports Journalist Association’s Sport for Social Change award.
Men’s monthly magazine GQ named Marcus their Campaigner of the Year, and the England International appeared on the front cover of their winter issue.
On 14 December, Marcus was given the Supernova award at the This Is Manchester Awards for 2020.
The Best for Marcus
Our Academy graduate was recognised on an international stage when he was bestowed with the prestigious FIFA Foundation award.
One last gong
“I feel like [in my career], if it was a 100 metres race, I started 50 metres behind everybody else,” Marcus explained, after he received the 2020 Expert Panel Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony.
Finishing with a bang
A year that began with an injury against Wolves, finished with an injury-time winner against the same club. Marcus scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory, in what proved to be our final strike of 2020.
From everyone at Manchester United, we’d like to congratulate Marcus on all of his achievements over the past year.