Opinion: We're proud our lads stepped up

Monday 12 July 2021 12:08

When David Beckham suffered arguably the lowest moment of his football career at the 1998 World Cup, he did not have to wait long for the first jolt of support from Manchester United.

“The first phone call was from Sir Alex Ferguson,” remembered the legendary England midfielder, “saying: ‘Come back to the club, don't worry, we will look after you’.”
 
Twenty-three years later, the circumstances are different, but a similar process will no doubt be under way, as Marcus Rashford and prospective signing Jadon Sancho attempt to recover from the agony of missing penalties during England's defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Rio's passionate defence of Rashford & Sancho article

Ferdinand sticks up for Marcus and our prospective new signing Jadon after they bravely stepped up for England.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team, plus all of the squad, will rally round Rashford, Sancho – and Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw – as the Three Lions try to come to terms with a bitterly disappointing evening at Wembley.
 
The club's supporters will do likewise. Already, on social media, the backing for our players has been characteristically strong from those of a United persuasion.
 
We'd expect nothing less.
In 1998, Beckham was vilified as England fell short, but recovered to playing a leading role in the greatest season in United history during the year that followed.
 
In 2006, Wayne Rooney was also sent off as England lost to Portugal, and returned to help us reclaim the Premier League title.
 
The circumstances here are different to 1998 and 2006, of course. Missing a penalty kick is not an error on par with being sent off, and Rashford, Sancho and Bukayo Saka have absolutely nothing to apologise for.
 
Many of the game's greats have suffered penalty heartbreak. Beckham himself missed penalties against France and Portugal at Euro 2004. Cristiano Ronaldo famously failed from the spot in Moscow. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes suffered in similar scenarios during their own glittering careers.
The club and its supporters could not be prouder of Marcus Rashford. It just isn't possible.
 
He was brave in stepping up at Wembley, coming on as a late substitute to take one of England's five spot-kicks, despite having enjoyed few touches of the ball, or having much time to get a feel for the pitch and the occasion.
 
His fabulous attitude is no surprise, of course. 
 
As a Manchester United player, he is an example to all aspiring youngsters at the club, having broken through at just 18 years of age and grown to become one of the current team's leading lights, at the age of just 23.
 
Off the pitch, he has truly become a national hero in the last 12 to 18 months, fighting to better the lives of millions of children, by helping to convince the Government to make critical changes to its free-school meals provisions.
 
He continues to strive in a variety of ways to be a force for progressive change.

'Keep your head up, Marcus, we're so proud of you' article

A massive number of United fans on our official Facebook page are posting messages of support for Rashford...

And no-one who roared home that famous late penalty at the Parc des Princes in 2019 is about to criticise Marcus Rashford for bravely stepping up when it matters. It's what he does.
 
This time it didn't work out for Marcus, or for Sancho, or for England.
 
But they will receive nothing but support from Manchester United and its fans. 
 
The English national team has been lucky to call upon our players throughout the decades, and our current crop are as special as any generation.
 
To Marcus, Luke, Harry and prospective Red Jadon: well played and keep your heads up. We cannot wait to see you back home at Manchester United.

The opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Manchester United Football Club.

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