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Robin van Persie has hailed Marcus Rashford for helping football find a conscience.
Former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Van Persie believes the work Rashford has done to help feed hungry kids and force the Government into a U-turn on their policy to fund free school meals has been a rare ray of light during the dark months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The England striker, who is likely to lead the line against Belgium on Sunday, has been honoured with an MBE after becoming the spokesman for a generation – and RVP feels Premier League clubs can learn a valuable lesson from the 23-year-old’s selflessness by slashing ticket prices when fans are allowed back.
Van Persie said: “During this covid crisis we all have to help each other. And someone who understands this better than anyone else in football is Marcus Rashford.
Van Persie praised Rashford's outstanding work off the field
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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“Just before the pandemic erupted, I went to meet Marcus in England. I did not have the chance to play with him at United. but thanks to our meeting I have learnt a lot about him and I have got to know him better.
“He has only just turned 23 and it is amazing what he has done already in football as well as in life off the pitch. I spoke to Marcus in length and he told me what has made him fight for school meals.
“Marcus told me that as a kid he experienced what it was like to have no dinner. He and his two brothers have had their struggles in life and sometimes there was no food.
“As he said to me, every kid deserves a meal. It has been some battle he’s had with the Government, but he has succeeded.
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“In the end, he worked with the Government and it is a beautiful example of working together.
“This is the way to survive this crisis in both football and in life.”
Rashford, who grew up in the tough Manchester district of Wythenshawe, received a telephone call from PM Boris Johnson on Saturday informing him that the Government will be handing £400million to local councils to help feed more than 1.5m school children over next 12 months.
Another £16m will be made available for the country’s food banks.
How can football do to help in the current climate? Have your say below.
Rashford was celebrated at Everton last week for his contribution to the region
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
It is the second time the United striker has forced the Government to change its policy so that kids don’t go hungry.
And when the Conservatives voted against providing meals for children during last month’s half-term holidays, Rashford launched an appeal that prompted 2,000 businesses throughout the UK to step in.
Van Persie said: “When Marcus scored a hat-trick (against RB Leipzig) in the Champions League, it was absolutely fantastic.
“It made me proud – but I am even more proud of what he has done away from football.”