(Reuters) - Marcus Rashford’s campaign to prompt a government u-turn on free school meal vouchers for needy children in the UK is more important than anything he has done on the pitch, according to his Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester-born Rashford, 22, has received widespread praise after writing an open letter to the government asking it to reconsider its decision to not issue vouchers outside term time.
“As his manager it’s been fantastic to follow Marcus during the lockdown period,” Solskjaer said in a virtual news conference on Thursday.
“It’s not just that he got the prime minister to change his mind but also what he’s done over the last few months.
“He’s changed the lives of so many kids this summer, which is more important than any game of football he’ll probably have ever played, so hopefully he can keep both sides going as well as he’s doing now.”
Rashford’s campaign to help children over what will be an extraordinarily long summer holiday caused because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, triggered the government on Tuesday to announce a COVID-19 summer food fund costing around 120 million pounds ($150 million).
The England forward has even been tipped to win the BBC’s coveted Sport’s Personality of the Year award but Solskjaer said Rashford was not seeking praise.
“I don’t think Marcus is thinking about this politically,” he said. “And using his position as a role model, a Man United player, a top player, he can effect people in a good way, it’s not about him or anything bigger than that.
“He’s always been a good lad and the change he’s made for kids has been unbelievable.”
Solskjaer confirmed that Rashford and Paul Pogba will both be available for Friday’s Premier League trip to Tottenham Hotspur, having recovered from injuries during the lockdown.
He expressed a note of caution though.
“They’re available so how long they’re going to play for, let’s see,” Solskjaer said.
“The Premier League is intense physically and they are going straight into another season after. It’s a good option to protect the players and not pick up any unnecessary injuries.”
United were in impressive form before the Premier League shut down three months ago and are in fifth place, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge