Marcus Rashford: Manchester United striker 'more than just a footballer', says first football coach Dave Horrocks

Horrocks: "There's a bigger message than him just being a Premier League footballer - he's an icon that kids will look up"

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Marcus Rashford's former coach Dave Horrocks says he is inspiring the future generation

Marcus Rashford is "more than just a footballer", according to Dave Horrocks - the man who first coached the player as a youngster at junior side Fletcher Moss Rangers.

The England and Manchester United forward wrote an open letter to MPs urging them to reconsider their decision not to run the current food voucher scheme during the school summer holidays.

The national voucher system was introduced in March to help low-income families feed their children when schools were closed under lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 22-year-old has already raised more than £20m for charity after partnering with FareShare during the lockdown period and insists he will "keep fighting" to tackle the issue of child hunger.

Rashford has also previously learned sign language to judge a poetry event at a deaf school and launched a shoebox appeal to help the homeless at Christmas.

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Emma Paton reports on Rashford's call for MPs to extend the food voucher scheme

Horrocks, who has also helped develop Jesse Lingard, Wes Brown and Tyler Blackett at the Manchester-based club, could not be prouder of the man that Rashford has become.

"I'm not exactly sure he realises how powerful a message he has sent out," Horrocks exclusively told Sky Sports News.

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"We know a lot of players do a lot of good work that we don't get to hear about but for him to stand up and do what he has done is just tremendous, he's inspirational.

"To say we are proud of him is an understatement, we really love what he's done.

"For him to have grown into this mature, young man beyond his years, people forget he's still only 22, is brilliant.

"There's a bigger message than him just being a Premier League footballer too - he's an icon that kids will look up to for good behaviour, the right habits and sending out the right messages."

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has raised more than £20m for charity during the coronavirus lockdown
Image: Rashford has raised more than £20m for charity during the coronavirus lockdown

Department for Education reiterates stance

In response to Rashford's letter, the Department for Education confirmed the scheme would not run during the summer holidays.

"As schools open more widely, and their kitchens reopen, we expect schools to make food parcels available for collection or delivery for any children that are eligible for free school meals who are not yet able to return to school," a spokesperson said. "Where this is not possible, schools can continue to offer vouchers to eligible pupils.

"Free schools meals are ordinarily term time only, and the national voucher scheme will not run during the summer holidays."

It instead referred to its new £63m local authority welfare assistance scheme which it says will "provide help those to who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to the impact of COVID-19", and its Holiday Activities and Food programme, which offers activities and free meals in the summer holidays.

Rashford: Man Utd stronger after lockdown

Rashford says Manchester United are in a "much stronger position" ahead of the Premier League's return than they were when the league was suspended in March.

United were in good form before the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to proceedings, having gone unbeaten in their previous 11 matches in all competitions.

The break has allowed Rashford to recover from the back injury that kept him out of the majority of those games and he is now ready to help United pick up where they left off in their first match in over three months, away to Tottenham on June 19 - live on Sky Sports.

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"I think coming out of this lockdown we are in a much stronger position than we were going into it," he told Stretty News.

"I think we just need to take each game as it comes and not get too ahead of ourselves. We are working hard in training, gelling as a team with players coming back from injury, etc.

"For me personally, I felt I was having my best season to date before the injury hit so now I'm back fully fit I'm determined to push on."

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Here's a reminder of some of the magic, drama and controversies from the Premier League season so far.... and there's not long to wait until it's back!
  • 64 live games on Sky Sports from provisional restart date of June 17
  • 25 games to be made freely available
  • New Sky Sports digital innovations also planned to enhance fan experience

The Premier League 2019/20 season will provisionally restart on Wednesday June 17 and Sky, the UK's leading football broadcaster, will make 25 games available 'free to air' - including Everton vs Liverpool on the first full weekend back - for everyone in the UK to enjoy.

Sky Sports will show 64 live Premier League games when the season resumes. In addition to the 39 matches already scheduled to be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports before the coronavirus interruption, 25 more matches will be available on both Sky Sports Premier League and Sky's free-to-air Pick channel, allowing the whole nation to be part of the return of live sport.

To celebrate the return of the Premier League, Sky Sports will also launch a host of innovative new features and updates to give fans an even more immersive experience and share the moments live with family and friends on virtual platforms.

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