‘Stick to the football’: activist Marcus Rashford responds with hat-trick

After his petition to end child food poverty hits one million signatures the Man Utd star scores first senior treble

Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick in Man Utd’s 5-0 win over RB Leipzig
Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick in Man Utd’s 5-0 win over RB Leipzig
(Image credit: Anthony Devlin/AFP via Getty Images )

When he’s not busy campaigning for children to receive free school meals, Marcus Rashford can be found kicking a ball around for Manchester United and England.

It turns out that the 22-year-old is not just a successful activist, but he’s also pretty good at playing football, too.

Off the pitch, Rashford has seen his petition to end child food poverty hit more than one million signatures. And on the pitch on Wednesday night he played a starring role in Man Utd’s 5-0 win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League.

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Appearing as a 63rd-minute substitute, Rashford netted a “quickfire hat-trick” for his first treble in senior football, Sky Sports says.

It was quite a response for the youngster who has been accused by some of “virtue signalling” and told to “stick to the football”.

With his hat-trick coming in a 16-minute spell, Rashford “displayed his powers at multi-tasking - showing it is possible to be a campaigner at the same time as a goalscorer”, BBC Sport reports.

Speaking after the game United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “Marcus has showed he can keep focusing on what’s important on and off the pitch at the moment. He did really well today coming off the bench.”

In a tweet Rashford said he “can’t stop smiling” after scoring a first hat-trick for his boyhood club and seeing the petition milestone of one million signatures.

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United and Flo help out

Rashford launched his petition to “end child food poverty” on 15 October, but a motion by the Labour Party to extend free school meals over holidays until Easter 2021 was voted down by MPs in the Commons last week.

Despite the vote, Rashford has continued his fight against the government and this week he has flooded his Twitter timeline with retweets of charities, schools and companies who have supported his campaign.

Rashford’s own club is one of many to back his initiative. In a statement Manchester United and the Manchester United Foundation announced a partnership with FareShare that will see 5,000 meals cooked and delivered to local school children this week.

Organisations of all sizes and people of all ages are behind Rashford. Last night he signed off Twitter with a message to his 3.7 million followers to read a story about 89-year-old Flo Osborne.

The great-great-grandmother has rallied to Rashford’s calls and has baked hundreds of pies to help to feed hungry kids during half term, The London Economic reports.

When asked about Rashford’s “lovely idea” she said: “I saw it on the news and I thought, that’s lovely. I have been baking pies throughout lockdown to help vulnerable people in the community, and I love doing it. It keeps me going, and gives me something to do. But I thought, I would love to help the little ones, too.”

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.