Marcus Rashford has answered racist trolls who abused him on social media after he missed a penalty in the Euro 2020 final, saying “I will never apologise for who I am”.
In a long and heartbreaking message about the match against Italy and its aftermath, he wrote “all I can say is sorry” for the spot kick.
It came as fans covered a mural of him in Manchester that had been defaced with messages of support.
He said: “I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I’m feeling at this exact time. I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence.
“I’ve always backed myself for a penalty but something didn’t feel quite right. During the long run-up, I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately, the result was not what I wanted.
“I felt as though I let my teammates down. I felt as if I’d let everyone down.
“A penalty was all I’d been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep so why not that one? It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to describe how it feels.
“Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had gone differently. Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout out my teammates. This summer has been one of the best camps I’ve experienced and you’ve all played a role in that.”
The Manchester United forward went on to praise the England squad, saying “a brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable”.
He added: “Your success is my success. Your failures are mine. I’ve grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself.
“Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up or most recently how I decide to spend my time off the pitch.
“I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from.”
“The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up,” he added.
“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that.”
He signed off: “For all the kind messages, thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”
The official England Twitter account responded to Rashford with a message of support.
It said: “Keep your head up, Marcus. We know you’ll come back stronger from this. Continue inspiring. Continue making a difference. We’re extremely proud of you.”
The footballer also posted a number of heart-warming messages he had received,…