(Reuters) – England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford said he had never experienced the kind of support he received from fans after he was the target of racist abuse following his penalty miss in the final of the European Championship in July.
Rashford’s penalty miss in the shootout against Italy ultimately cost England the title at Wembley. The 23-year-old’s young team mates, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, were also targeted after missing their spot kicks.
A Rashford mural in Manchester was defaced too but the community came together and left messages of support to cover up the vandalism and the player said that was a “special moment”.
“It’s nice to have that support from different types of people. It’s probably something that I’ve not really experienced before,” Rashford told the BBC.
“You never want to get that far in the tournament and then get to the final game and lose. But to lose on penalties it’s such, such fine margins.
“But there’s never a time that racism is acceptable, or we should accept racism and just get on with our lives. But probably on the biggest stage that racism has been in front of us as young players, it was nice to see so many people supporting us without us even saying anything.”
Rashford has been sidelined ever since after undergoing surgery for a shoulder injury he said he had been carrying since September last year but is on the comeback trail after returning to full training.
“My recovery is, I wouldn’t say coming to an end because obviously I have to keep looking after it, but I’m in a much better place physically and mentally,” he said.
Rashford also said he was looking forward to playing with Cristiano Ronaldo having been a fan of the 36-year-old during his first stint at the Old Trafford club.
“It’s always nice when a club legend finds a way back to the club,” he added.
“To be playing with him back at Old Trafford is a terrific feeling and hopefully gives us a push to start winning more trophies.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)