He may only be 23 but Marcus Rashford has already changed the world in more ways than one. But all the while other people have done the same for him.
Here, in our second exclusive extract from his new how-to guide for over-10s, You are A Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be, jointly written with Carl Anka, he recalls the family and friends who made the biggest impact on him…
There’s this saying that goes:
I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do in my life without an incredible group of family and friends around me.
We should start by talking about my mum, Melanie. She is an unbelievably strong woman. Sometimes I cannot put into words how much I love her (but I’ll try my best here). My mum has been through some of the worst things that you could imagine, but she has never let anything that ’s happened take away her smile. When I was growing up she worked three jobs and ran a house with my siblings and myself running about the place, and she still found time to give us so much love and good advice. She always tries to see the bright side of things, which is something I’m so lucky to have learned from her.
In football interviews I often get asked, Who is the toughest person you know? and I think people always expect me to say another footballer. But my answer every single time is MY MUM.
She’s not a big football person, but every night before a match she’ll always call to give me a little pep talk. It’s the same piece of advice every time – go out and enjoy it and if you play well you’ll win the game – but she’s right. My mum is always right.
She’s one of the best people I can speak to before I play, because she knows exactly what I need to hear in order to be ready. She always knows the right words to say. There’s a lot of my mum in me (and I don’t just mean we look alike!). She has passed on so many traits that are really important to the way I live life. She never gives up, so neither will I.
She doesn’t care too much what people say about her and I’m the same.
Knowing the value of hard work, being dedicated to what you do, being honest, having good manners and being respectful to other people – I get all of that from her.
But the best lesson she has taught me is to always appreciate everything because she knows that life isn’t easy. There are so many things that can go wrong, and she taught me not to let the bad things define who I am.
Whatever you are doing in life, no matter where you might end up, it’s good to have someone you can trust alongside you. Someone who you know believes in you. That person might be your mum, your dad, your guardian, a teacher, or a different adult. It could be a sibling, or it could be a friend. It could be anyone. What matters is that there is someone out there who is rooting for you and who wants everything to work out for you.
Even though there might be times when you feel lonely, there is always someone out there who will help you when you’re having a tough time. There’s always someone who wants you to be yourself, who wants you to try your hardest and who wants to see you happy.
Even if you don’t always see it, or if that person is a little hard to find, there will always be someone to grab your hand if you are reaching out. I promise.
My mum is one of those people for me, and I’m really blessed to have her. She has always believed in me and has taught me loads of important lessons throughout my life.
Now that I’m older, I’m passing on those lessons to my younger family members and the next generation. My brothers Dwaine and Dane didn’t like to admit it, but they were always watching over me, whether it was in the garden, at the park or in my games when I was younger. When he was a teenager, Dwaine’s motivation to learn how to drive was because he wanted to take me to football lessons!
They’re still watching out for me now, still giving me loads of advice about how to get better at football, how I can row as a person and what I can do next. I’m a big man now, but I’m never too big for advice from them, and they’re never too busy to help me out. My sisters, Chantelle and Claire, also showed me a lot growing up. I didn’t always share a house with them because they’re older than me, but I love them the same way I love my mum.
They have the same strength that she has, and they both spent a lot of time protecting me and making sure I was on the right path. It was my sisters who showed me how to be funny, how to make mates with new people at school and how to make sure I look after all of my friends.
They now have their own children, and watching my sisters pass on those same lessons to my nephews is the most incredible thing.
My cousin Sabrina was the busiest person I knew when I was a child, but she always made time for family and would check up on me because she said that was important. Now that I’m older I try to do the same thing and make time for the people who are important to me.
TOMORROW: How I found my voice
I have three really close friends that I want to tell you about. We met in a really fun way. I must have been about seven years old and my mum, my brothers and I had just moved house. It was the school holidays and I was sat at home, not doing much, when I heard a knock on the door.
When I answer it there’s this boy, the same age as me, holding a football and asking if his friend was home. He told me his name was Jamie. Jamie was looking for his friend who had lived in the house before me – turns out they had moved out and not told him!
He turned around to leave. But, you know me, if I see a football, I’m going to try and play. So I did. I said ‘Are youse going to play football?’ And he replied ‘Yeah, you can come if you want.’ We went to the park, and from then on we went out every single day together. Jamie is such a fun, chilled-out guy. He introduced me to another one of his really good friends, Ashley, and we became close too. Ash was a really good footballer (actually, he still is now!) and he was always playing down at the park.
Jamie, Ashley and I were inseparable. We’d walk to school together, walk home together and then go play in the park. A little later on we met this lad called Roshaun, and he joined our gang. I’m still friends with all of them, but honestly I don’t really see them as friends anymore – they’re so special to me that they’re basically my other family.
I can share the same things with them I’d share with my mum or my siblings, and they know they can trust me too.
Their friends often became my friends, and their families became my family. Ashley’s twin sister Abby used to join us in the park and playing football – she fitted right in because a friend is a friend no matter what form they come in.
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She was the sensible one, and she showed me from an early age that girls could do anything boys could do, and I’m forever grateful. I even call Ashley’s mum my second mum – when I go round their house she tells me to help myself, and I make her cups of tea and everything.
I’m so thankful for my friends. It may sound a little strange, but every now and then I feel like I can be a bit difficult to be around: I can be disorganised at times, or I can talk about football too much. It can take time to get used to me, and my friends understand and love me anyway. And I understand them and love them back.
When you’re surrounded by good friends, allthe worries you have about yourself tend tomelt away, because they remind you thatthose little things don’t matter in the end.