As we write this post, something unusual and wonderful is happening. Footballer Marcus Rashford’s mural is being covered with messages of support and love from the public after it was shockingly vandalised in the wake of his recently missed penalty in the European Cup final.
This public outpouring of support isn’t simply a rightful backlash against overt racism, it’s also a heartfelt defence of Rashford himself – a man who is fast becoming a national treasure. With his modest, down to earth personality (so refreshing for a footballer) and through his determined campaigning for free meals for underprivileged children, Rashford’s behaviour and values are resonating in culture.
These highly resonant values are at the heart of Rashford’s surprisingly powerful and inspiring recent children’s book You Are a Champion: How You Can Be The Best You Can Be. We don’t often make a habit of reading celebrity self-help books, but Rashford is no ordinary celebrity, and his book is certainly not the kind of limp vanity project one might expect from a footballer. Quite the opposite.
Coming from humble upbringings himself, Rashford’s book doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities many kids face today: poverty, a difficult home life, feelings of alienation and of being left out. As a result, his message to kids feels real, credible and inspiring: show courage in the face of adversity. No matter the obstacles, set-backs and hardships – don’t give up. Be yourself, dream big, work hard, work together, stay hungry, and use your power for the good of others. Inspiring stuff.
After a year-and-a-bit of COVID, Rashford’s actions and message of courage are what we all need. It’s no wonder the public have so passionately jumped to his defence. A missed penalty is nothing when you’re inspiring a nation and their children to live boldly and courageously through a global disaster and beyond.
‘We stand with you Marcus’: Hundreds of messages of support cover vandalised Rashford mural (msn.com)