Marcus Rashford has explained how his family was helped by Manchester United by signing him one year early.
The forward joined United’s academy at the age of 11, despite the program being for players aged 12 and above.
Rashford was one of five children in his immediate family, and he opened up on the tough circumstances that pushed his mother, Melanie, to request he be taken on before his 12th birthday.
Speaking to the BBC, Rashford said: “My mum was a single parent, she had five kids all living in the same house. The programme that I started at 11 years old, you’re supposed to start it at 12 years old.
“It basically gives you accommodation closer to the training facilities and a new school and she worked that hard to push it forward because she knew that was a step I needed to take.”
“I needed to be eating the right food as I was growing, I needed to be close to my team-mates, my new school and my new school friends.
“She made that decision when I was 11 years old and United allowed it.”
Rashford described how Melanie would do her full weekly shop in Pound World, where each item was less than a pound, and would ration food supplies to last over seven days.
He added: “That was the reason I ended up going at a younger age to the others, it was to help my mum with her situation and also get me out of the situation we were in.
“So there is always a big element of sacrifice to get to the top level and that’s the one we had to make.”
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The 22-year-old’s back story offers some insight into perhaps why he has been so keen to help vulnerable children during lockdown.
In co-operation with charity Fare Share, Rashford has worked tirelessly to supply three million meals to those who would normally have been given them at school.
He has now gone a step further, by penning an open letter to the government pleading they do not end their free school meal voucher scheme.
“What families are going through now, I’ve once had to go through that – and it’s very difficult to find a way out,” Rashford said.
“It’s very important for me to help people who are struggling. Whether the outcome changes or doesn’t change – that’s why I wrote it.”