Marcus Rashford declared himself “overwhelmed”, “thankful” and “lost for words” after hundreds gathered at a mural of the England star for an anti-racism demonstration on Tuesday night.
The mural in Withington, where Rashford grew up, was vandalised after England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
The work has since been covered in supportive hand-written messages of support and respect for the Manchester United striker, and repainted.
A 700-plus crowd took the knee at the Stand Up to Racism demo, where members of the community spoke and a message from the Greater Manchester mayor was read out.
Holding up placards and chanting “black lives matter” the crowd in Withington tonight sent a powerful message in unison.
“We will never apologise for being black,” a speaker said, echoing Rashford’s own words in the wake of the abuse.
Earlier in the day, West Mercia Police have arrested and released a 50-year-old man during an ongoing investigation concerning a racist tweet
Police said the suspect, from Powick, near Worcester, was detained on suspicion of inciting racial hatred.
The individual, who was not named, has since been released as the investigation continues.
Inspector Pete Nightingale, from Worcester police station, said: “We encourage people to make these reports and are pleased with the speed at which we have been able to deal with this incident.
“We continue to work with the local football community and have links with the local clubs to ensure that this behaviour is dealt with appropriately.”
Greater Manchester Police have also said that they are investigating a report of racially aggravated damage to the mural and a social media post which was directed at Rashford, Sancho and Saka.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes condemned the racist abuse and “vile behaviour” which has directed towards the England players.
The commissioner of the artwork, Withington Walls co-founder Ed Wellard, said those responsible for the vandalism should be educated rather than punished.
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