Marcus Rashford says footballers will not be silenced in bid to improve world

Marcus Rashford insists football stars of the modern generation will not be silenced in their bid to make the world a better place.

There was a time not too long ago when the biggest names in the English game were discouraged from having an opinion on anything else but football.

It led to a misconception that most of them were not too bright and unable to think for themselves.

But Rashford has done more than most to change all this in recent months, following his incredible campaign to help underprivileged children around the nation get access to free school meals.

His crusade saw the England and Manchester United hero take on the Government and win – after forcing them into an embarrassing U-turn and extending the scheme.

It was a shot in the arm for all those footballers left seething when our politicians called them out during the Covid-19 lockdown and demanded they provide some financial help towards fighting the crisis.

Rashford's reward was to win the hearts of the population and last week the 22-year-old was awarded an MBE in the Queen's delayed birthday honours list.

Rashford is not the first player to prove he can think outside the box and use his sporting status as a force of good off the pitch as well as on it.

Three Lions team-mate Raheem Sterling has become a leading light in the fight against racism, while Danny Rose has spoken honestly and eloquently on the same subject, as well as reveal his problems with depression.

Rashford, who will line-up against Denmark in the Nations League at Wembley tonight, is determined that voices like his will continue to be heard and he said:

"In sports things change all the time and especially in our generation, you mentioned those players' names that there's more people speaking out on issues that they feel strongly about.

"It definitely gives you the element of freedom to speak about things that are important to you. That's actually how everything first started for me – just speaking on something I thought was right.

"I don't think players should feel bad about doing that. It's becoming more and more important and the more that people do that, the more an eye opener it is to how many people we can help and we can affect.

"For me it's a good thing and a positive thing that people feel that freedom to speak out on things. I was proud that the Queen had recognised what I’d been trying to do."

Rashford, who admits making his international debut at the age of just 18 helped him grow up fast, intends to keep pressure on the Government, but will not allow his sterling campaigning to affect his football.

He said: "You can't control what people are going to say about you. For me it's not what's important, the thing that's important to me is helping the people we've helped so far, many more hopefully in the future and just playing my football and keep improving.

"Even though it's a very touchy topic, I have to keep things as simple as possible for me to stay focused on the pitch and that's what we've been doing.

"I don't know what the future holds, I had to learn about the issues myself as time went on and gain more of an understanding in order to try and help people in the right way. I'm still young and I'm very much enjoying my football whilst helping people."

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