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Romelu Lukaku says his former Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford has done 'a beautiful thing' by crusading against child food poverty.
Last week, Boris Johnson's government pledged£400million to help combat deprivation over the school holidays, after Rashford spearheaded a public campaign for free school meals to be extended beyond term time.
It was the second time the United and England striker had helped force the government into a U-turn, having won his fight for meals to be offered during the summer holidays with the country in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.
Inter Milan striker Lukaku will not faced Rashford when Belgium host the Three Lions in their Nations League clash in Neuven on Sunday, after the United man pulled out of Gareth Southgate's squad through injury.
Lukaku says his pal deserves 'massive respect' for not forgetting his roots and fighting for those less fortunate than himself.
Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford were team-mates at United for two seasons
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
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"What he did is a beautiful thing," Lukaku told ESPN.
"It's something he deserves massive respect from the whole population, throughout England – because what he did was challenge the government to help them with free school meals in the holidays, because he comes from that environment, and when you come from that environment you are marked for life.
"I speak from my own experiences and it's stuff you don't want to see other kids to go through. What he did was a beautiful thing and he deserves massive respect wherever he goes."
Rashford and Lukaku were team-mates for two years before the Belgium striker left United for Inter in August last year.
Rashford had to pull out of the England squad for Sunday's game against Belgium
(Image: Getty Images)
Lukaku has been in form since switching to the San Siro. The 27-year-old has scored seven goals in eight Serie A and Champions League matches so far this season, having netted 34 times in all competitions last term.
Meanwhile, Rashford has also been praised by another former United striker, with Robin van Persie hailing him as "amazing" over his fight against child hunger.
“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," said Van Persie.
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