Marcus Rashford was guilty of missing a crucial penalty during the shootout against Italy in the Euro 2020 final. However, the backlash that followed his miss had little to do with his footballing ability.
Marcus Rashford, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, missed three crucial penalties against Italy in the shootout. It eventually led to England losing the match and failing to win their first ever European Championship.
The social media backlash the three players faced was massive but many football fans crossed the boundary between criticism and abuse in a rather distasteful fashion. They targeted and racially abused the English trio on social media platforms. It is an abhorring practice that has been rampant in European football for quite some time now.
On top of such vile hatred on social media, Marcus Rashford's mural in his hometown was also defaced with graffiti containing racially hateful messages.
Marcus Rashford: An England hero on and off the pitch
Marcus Rashford has been one of the most impressive breakout players from Old Trafford in the post-Ferguson era. He broke through the ranks at Carrington a few years back and has gone from strength to strength since then.
At the young age of 23, he has not only made his name on the pitch but also off it. The MBE award holder was instrumental in changing England's policies on welfare and development of children and has fed hundreds of thousands of homeless children himself.
On the pitch. Rashford has become a talisman for United and is one of the more important stars for England as well. His penalty miss in the final, albeit important, does not reflect his overall potential or personality in any form or manner.
What did Marcus Rashford say in response?
As expected, Marcus Rashford's response was dignified yet strong. His statement began:
"I don't even know where to start and I don't even know how to put into words how I'm feeling at this exact time. I've had a difficult season, I think that's been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence."
He spoke about what was going on in his mind prior to the penalty.
"I've always backed myself for a penalty but something didn't feel quite right. During the long run up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted," Rashford continued. "I felt as though I had let my teammates down. I felt as if I'd let everyone down. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of gone differently."
After offering an honest apology for his missed penalty, Rashford made it clear that he was less than keen to share the sentiments of the racial abusers.
"I've grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch," Rashford wrote. "I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from."
Marcus Rashford's humility as a human has made him a favorite of many passionate lovers of the game as well. In the face of such heinous hatred, these fans have remained loyal to everything Rashford stands for.
Here are some of the letters they sent to the Manchester United forward:
Speaking about them, he said:
"The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up. I'm Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that."
He signed off with a promise to come back stronger.
"For all the kind messages, thank you," Rashford concluded. "I'll be back stronger. We'll be back stronger."