Marcus Rashford’s life lessons: ‘If you can help someone, you should!’

He's a national hero

marcus rashford

by Daisy McLure |
Updated on

Not only is Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, 23, representing England in the UEFA Euro 2020, he has become a national hero, campaigning for free school dinners throughout the pandemic. Here’s what the sports star has learned along the way...

‘Either you do nothing – or start grafting’

Marcus’ successful campaign for free school meals came after his own experience as a child. Growing up in a single-parent family with little money on Manchester’s Northern Moor estate – where some of Channel 4’s iconic show Shameless was filmed – he would often go to bed on an empty stomach.

Speaking of his family’s difficulties, he said, “I struggle to explain hunger as a kid. If you haven’t been through it, you just don’t know what I am on about. I remember countless times playing out, and then if there wasn’t any food, just forcing myself to sleep because I knew there would be a meal the next morning. I really was that hungry and a lot of the times, that’s just what I had to do. But what’s bad is that it became part of a routine. It wasn’t happening once a month – it was two or three times a week. If you combine the lack of food I was having with the amount of exercise I was doing, my nutrition was all over the gaff. Either you do nothing about it and struggle, or start grafting.”

‘In life, there’s the right thing and wrong thing to do’

In October last year, Marcus – who has raised over £20 million for charity – was awarded an MBE for his work in tackling child poverty. But he says his greatest achievement is seeing families “not struggling any more”.

He said, “I think the recognition of the MBE actually helped more people understand and has given them the opportunity to learn about what I’m doing, and because of that it allowed more people to be helped. I don’t know anything about politics. In life, there’s the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do, and for me it’s as simple as that. If somebody needs help, if you’re in a position to help them, you should help them.”

‘Spread positive messages on social media’

Despite having 10 million Instagram followers, the footballer spends little time on social media. But Marcus is keen for it to be used in a “positive” way, saying, “I keep myself to myself away from the pitch, but I think nowadays there’s so many things going on that have nothing to do with football that can affect your football.

“For me, it’s about just trying to stay away from all of that and do what matters – spend time with family, spend time with friends. I like [social media], but I don’t like when it’s the main focus for someone. [But] if you can spread positive messages through the social media channels, then by all means do that.”

marcus rashford playing football
The footballer plays for the English national team ©shutterstock

‘Friends can be family too’

Marcus also has a close bond with his best friends from childhood: Jamie, Ashley and Roshaun. Speaking of their bond, he said, “Jamie, Ashley and I were inseparable when we were younger. Later on, we met this lad called Roshaun, and he joined our gang. I’m still friends with all of them, but I don’t really see them as friends any more – they’re so special to me that they’re basically my other family.

“I can share the same things with them that I’d share with my mum or my siblings, and they know they can trust me, too. I’m so thankful for my friends. It may sound strange, but I feel like I can be a bit difficult. I can be disorganised, or talk about football too much. It can take time to get used to me, and my friends understand and love me anyway. And I understand them and love them back.”

‘Be proud of who you are’

Despite his success, Marcus has sadly dealt with racist abuse. In January, the footballer – who is single after splitting with childhood girlfriend, Lucia Loi – was forced to hit back after being targeted on social media.

He said, “Humanity and social media at its worst. Yes, I’m a black man and I live every day proud that I am. No one, or no one comment, will make me feel any different. Sorry if you were looking for a strong reaction – you’re not going to get it. I have beautiful children of all colours following me and they don’t need to read it. Beautiful colours that should only be celebrated.”

Check out: from Cheryl to Coleen Rooney - where are the 2006 WAGS now?


The UK Wags - where are they now? - slider

Victoria Beckham1 of 9
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Victoria Beckham

One half of the indestructible Beckham brand, Victoria was the original Queen WAG in 2006. At the time Victoria had been married to David for seven years and had just given birth to her third boy, Cruz. She had also just launched her denim line, dvb Style and walked the catwalk for Roberto Cavalli. Over a decade later, she is a fully fledged and well respected fashion designer, with a fourth addition to her brood – the adorable Harper.

Coleen Rooney2 of 9
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Coleen Rooney

Coleen rose to fame as a WAG at just 20 years old. Coleen and Wayne are married and they celebrated their ten-year anniversary in 2018. However, Wayne's repeated cheating has strained the relationship over the years. They have four children together, Kai, Klay, Kit and Cass. Since 2006 Coleen has released a fitness DVD, been a style advisor for Littlewoods and even had a column with us in Closer magazine.

Cheryl Cole3 of 9
CREDIT: Shutterstock


How could we forget Cheryl as a WAG? Back then, 23-year-old Cheryl was a popstar in Girls Aloud who had just married Ashley Cole. Nowadays, Cheryl is a household name and a worldwide celebrity in her own right. After splitting from Ashley in 2010, she had a successful (well, successful-ish) solo career, was a judge on The X Factor and was the face of beauty brand L'Oreal. She married Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini in 2016 but they divorced three months later. Most recently, Cheryl separated from One Direction singer, Liam Payne, who she has a baby son called Bearwith.

Abbey Clancy4 of 9
CREDIT: Shuttestock

Abbey Clancy

Abbey first grabbed our attention in 2006 as one of the finalists in Britain's Next Top Model. She began dating Peter Crouch that same year and the pair are now married with three kids Sophia Ruby, Liberty Rose and baby Johnny. Lingerie model Abbey went on to win Strictly Come Dancing in 2013 and she returned to Britain's Next Top Model as the show's presenter. Not bad work, eh?

Danielle Lloyd5 of 9
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Danielle Lloyd

Danielle Lloyd was dating footballer Teddy Sheringham when she gained her WAG status. At the time, her title as Miss Great Britain was a controversial matter and she was later stripped of it. Fast forward to now and Danielle has appeared on TV shows such as Celebrity Big Brother, Total Wipeout, The Weakest Link and even Come Dine With Me. She has three sons, Archie, Harry and George with her now ex-husband Jamie O'Hara. Danielle gave birth to a fourth child with her husband Michael O'Neill, Ronnie, in 2017.

Elen Rivas6 of 9
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Elen Rivas

Elen Rivas was engaged to Frank Lampard at the time of the 2006 World Cup, and was a permanent fixture in the WAG circle. After splitting from Frank after a seven-year relationship, she dated Peter Andre, appeared on Dancing On Ice and now looks after her two daughters Luna and Isla while working as a model. Frank has since married TV presenter Christine Bleakley and they've welcomed their daughter Patricia into the world.

Louise Owen7 of 9
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Louise Owen

Despite being married to one of the most famous footballers at the time, Louise Owen wasn't your stereotype WAG. She has always managed to keep her distance from the limelight. Her passion is rescuing race horses and she currently lives in Wales with her husband Michael and their four children, Gemma, James, Jessica and Emily.

Carly Zucker8 of 9
CREDIT: shutterstock

Carly Zucker

Now known as Carly Cole after marrying midfielder Joe Cole in Chelsea in 2009, Carly loved to party during the 2006 World Cup (we know the feeling). She then spent two weeks in the jungle during I'm A Celeb in 2009 before being the third to be booted out. Carly and Joe have had three children, Ruby, Harrison and Max together.

Alex Curran9 of 9

Alex Curran

Former nail technician Alex Curran began dating Liverpool player Steven Gerrard in 2002. She was one of the leading figures in the 2006 WAG squad. The pair married in 2007 and they have had four children together, Lexie, Lio, Lord, Lilly-Ella. Fashion lover Alex has released a perfume, fronted a Lipsy campaign and written a weekly shopping column for a national newspaper.

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‘Mum taught me to look on the bright side’

His mother, Melanie, is Marcus’ hero. The single mum from Manchester juggled many jobs to provide for her three children, with Marcus saying, “My mum, Melanie, is an unbelievably strong woman. Sometimes I cannot put into words how much I love her. My mum has been through some of the worst things, but she has never let anything take away her smile. When I was growing up, she worked three jobs and ran a house with my siblings and myself running about the place, and she still found time to give us so much love and good advice.

“She always tries to see the bright side of things, which is something I’m so lucky to have learned from her. I often get asked, ‘Who is the toughest person you know?’ and I think people always expect me to say another footballer. But my answer every single time is my mum.”

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