The greatest living Englishman could be a Manchester United footballer. You cannot imagine how I feel, as an armchair fan (so not a real one) of Liverpool, saying something like that. But it’s true. Marcus Rashford, who came from a very poor background and became a special talent, is making a difference.
His campaign against hunger is truly magnificent. And the fact that he is campaigning so strongly and successful despite his vast income as a footballer is even more impressive. Really, you might ask? Yes, really.
Naturally, when Rashford had won a battle with the government to ensure the poorest children got free school meals, not everyone was happy. And sure enough, the usual old arguments were rolled out, inevitably on social media. It went something like this: “Rashford is a very rich man who earns in a week what the poorest people earn in a decade. Why doesn’t he use all his money to feed these people?” At first, it seems a reasonable criticism until you understand two things: Rashford will pay lots of tax from that £200k a week and what he, or anyone else, spends his money on is his business.
His own income and personal fortune has come about because he is exceptionally good at his chosen profession. He did not choose his salary: his employer offered to pay it to him. And the point is that Rashford has never forgotten where he came from.
We should celebrate the boy’s success, even if he does play for Manchester United. We should celebrate a working class boy with ambition, someone who aspired to make his life and that of his family better. He should certainly not be decried for making money. Unlike many in the upper classes, Rashford actually earned his money by way of talent and hard work. To me, it’s a class thing. Why should working class people not enjoy the finer things in life if they work hard enough for it?
Marcus Rashford knows what it’s like to go without a meal. That’s why he campaigns to ensure that other children don’t experience the same thing. I celebrate his greatness and as a footballer, although obviously I sincerely hope he struggles to hit a cow’s arse with a banjo at Anfield next Sunday.