Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford lives the life of a successful footballer, renting in a huge mansion in one of the city’s fanciest areas.
But his luxurious set up couldn’t be further from his tough upbringing, and despite his hard-working mum’s best efforts there were often days when they couldn’t afford to put food on the table.
Since earning a place on both the United and England squads, he’s worked tirelessly to supply three million meals to those who would normally have been given them at school in co-operation with the Fare Share.
Following his campaign, which included an emotional open letter to all MPs, the Government has made a huge U-turn and poured an extra £120m into a one-off “Covid summer food fund”.
Rashford grew up in Wythenshawe, Manchester, attending a primary school where the number of pupils receiving free school meals is twice the national average.
His mum Mel was a single parent, and she had five kids living under the same roof.
She worked full-time, but there still wasn’t enough money coming in.
Asked if he remembers feeling hungry as a child in an interview about the campaign, Rashford said: “Yes, of course”.
However he added that he was never angry about it as he understood his mum was doing everything she could.
He continued: “I also understood, maybe it was just part of me growing up. I just knew how hard my mum was working.
“I would never moan, I would never do anything.
“If there was food on the table, there was food on the table. If there’s not, I had friends who understood my situation and maybe it was possible for me to go to their house to get some food.”
Speaking about his childhood on BBC Breakfast, he said: “It has a huge importance for me on a personal level because what families are going through now, I once had to go through that same system. It’s very difficult to find a way out.
“Now I’m in this position that I’m in, it’s very important for me to help the people who are struggling.
“My mum did the best she could.
“I remember we used to go to a shop called Poundworld, we would schedule out the week.
“We would get seven yoghurts and you can have one a day.
“She did the best she could within the circumstances, but there are some families out there that have four or five kids, so it’s literally impossible to take control of the situation.”
His life changed completely when he earned a place in United’s youth academy aged 11, even though the programme being for players aged 12 and above.
Melanie contacted the club and asked if he could join early, knowing it came with catered accommodation and a new school.
Speaking to the BBC, Rashford said: “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.”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.”
Rashford’s former youth club coach said the rising star has always been completely down-to-earth.
He told the Sun : “Marcus comes form a lovely family. He is a smashing kid, very humble and so quiet and unassuming.
“He is not a Jack-the-lad type of person. If he ever starts acting bigger than he should be, well his brother Dwain will slap him down”.