Team GB sprint star Dina Asher-Smith hailed Marcus Rashford and his England team-mates for "showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation".

Manchester United striker Rashford earned plaudits for his work lobbying the government to provide free school meals during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, while he and the rest of the Three Lions squad who reached the final of Euro 2020 this month were also vocal in the fight against racism, continuing to take a knee throughout the tournament in a united showing against racial prejudice.

Asher-Smith, who will be going for gold in the 100 and 200 metres at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has herself spoken out about her experiences of racism and in March she received the column of the year award by the International Sport Press Association for an article she wrote in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder.

She has also been a vocal supporter of the protests taken by Naomi Osaka and Lewis Hamilton in the past and the 25-year-old, a die-hard Red Devils supporter, hopes to do more in the area of social activism once the Olympics have finished.

"I think what Marcus and all the other players have been doing is fantastic and it made me so proud to watch them and see how they conducted themselves," Asher-Smith told a roundtable of journalists at a pre-Games Team GB call.

"I think they've done fantastically throughout the Euros. I think they surpassed all our expectations in the nicest way.

"They are actually a credit to our nation and showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation and I think as sports people we are really proud and definitely as a Brit, and a black Brit, especially throughout the Euros I was really proud of them. I think they represented both the nation and our community incredibly well.

"Social activism is something I'd love to increase, but with the Olympics and everything I've been one-track minded towards Tokyo. But definitely once we're past this point, because I definitely compartmentalise things, when I'm over this little compartment of my life that's definitely something I want to increase because you do have to give back.

"I think it's an essential part of being not only an athlete but someone who has had an opportunity and the only reason I'm here today is because of the good will and hard work of so many other people in teams and throughout my community and so many opportunities I've had, whether that's grants or school teachers taking extra time to take me to a club or telling me about a club.

"It's goodwill of other people so it would be entirely selfish to not give back when you have the opportunity to in your career and I'm really proud of how the footballers have done that throughout the year and how they conducted themselves throughout the Euros." 

 

Athletes competing in Tokyo are set to have more scope to protest at the upcoming Olympics after the IOC relaxed its controversial Rule 50, which previously forbade any "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

The IOC will allow athletes to make protests prior to competitions starting, though anyone doing so on podiums or medal ceremonies – similar to the famous Black Power salute made by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics – could face sanctions.

Asher-Smith always expected a climb down, adding: "I think to see the IOC lifted the ban, I was entirely unsurprised. 

"Protesting I see as a fundamental human right, so if you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality how on earth would that go? You know what I mean? How on earth would you enforce that? 

"Would you revoke somebody's medal for saying racism is wrong? I honestly thought that was always going to happen otherwise they would have just been faced with loads of athlete protests at the Games and it would have been really embarrassing, you can't really tell people not to.

"Unless they want to say they're against people saying they're against racism I didn't know how that was going to go.

"Some of the Olympics' most iconic moments have been the Black Power salute by Tommie Smith way back when, and that is something people remember the Olympics for, that's something they're very proud to see at the Olympic Games."

Asher-Smith, the reigning 200m world champion, also hopes she can play her part in inspiring young women to take part in sports over the course of the next two weeks.

"I think the next fortnight has great potential to inspire an entire generation of young women as we do with every Olympics," she said.

"But I think it's becoming increasingly important nowadays. We have significant drop-off rates of young women.

"They hit teenage years, they're all very active in the sporting field or active world, then they hit between 11 and 15 and drop out in their droves.

"Then it's under 10 per cent get enough exercise or get the government recommended guidelines of exercise and engage on aesthetic grounds rather than having fun. 

"I hope the next fortnight shows not only can you make a viable career out of this. Being a sportswoman in whatever you want to do is a viable career it's not just track and field, it's not just tennis, it's not just football there are many avenues you can go down to be a career sportswoman. 

"But also that it's fun, that it can completely change your life, develop lifelong friendships, it's not just about doing sport for a physical goal to lose weight, to gain this, to alter your body but also for self-esteem, your mind, your mental health and to live a fulfilled and enriched life. 

"I think the Olympic Games has an incredible chance to inspire so many women and also women who have had babies, and the Paralympics as well, women who have very different life circumstances to all of us, so I think it's a great platform and showcase for all the sports we love."

Marcus Rashford has taken action to pre-empt questions over the motives behind his charitable efforts ahead of the publication of a story alleging he has commercially benefited in the past 18 months.

Manchester United and England striker Rashford became involved in FareShare's drive for donations, food and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

As a kid, Rashford's family relied on free school meals and he subsequently used his status and profile to help FareShare distribute the equivalent of over 21 million meals for British children and families who would otherwise struggle.

Rashford's work then helped bring about a U-turn by the United Kingdom's Conservative government over the extension of free school meals for the summer holidays, ensuring 1.3 million vulnerable children would continue to have access to food when they otherwise may not.

The success of Rashford's campaigning has seen him link up with various other companies in their charitable ventures, though the 23-year-old seemingly caught wind of a story that is set to be run by British political and current affairs magazine, The Spectator.

Rashford claimed the publication – which counts current UK prime minister Boris Johnson among its former editors – is going to address "how I have benefitted commercially in the last 18 months".

Getting out in front of the story, Rashford tweeted: "To clarify, I don't need to partner with brands. I partner because I want to progress the work I do off the pitch and most of any fee I would receive contributes to that.

"Last summer, 1.3m children had access to food support, through my relationship with [the fashion brand] Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with [publishing company] Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.

"Do I have a larger commercial appeal following the U-turns? I'm sure, but I'm also a Manchester United and England international footballer.

"Why has there always got to be a motive? Why can't we just do the right thing?"

Finally, he added: "I actually enjoy reading bits from The Spectator now and again, but this is just a non-starter."

Manchester United have not yet decided if Marcus Rashford requires surgery despite reports to the contrary.

Recent media speculation suggested United and Rashford had come to the decision that the England international needed an operation to fix a long-standing shoulder issue.

Rashford is said to have been struggling with the problem since at least November, while it has also been claimed he has not been truly injury free in two years.

Were Rashford to have surgery, it is thought he would be out at least until October, forcing him to miss a significant amount of football at the start of 2021-22.

But Solskjaer is adamant a decision is yet to be made.

"No, we're looking at the best options," Solskjaer said after United's 2-1 friendly win over Derby County when asked if surgery was definitely in the offing for Rashford.

"Of course, he went away just to reflect on it a little bit. We have to take the best course of action for him and the club.

"We're still addressing that with the experts."

While Rashford's involvement in the early weeks of the season is in some doubt, Jesse Lingard looks set to play a part for United.

Lingard spent the second half of 2020-21 on loan at West Ham and found some spectacular form, scoring nine goals and setting up another four in 16 Premier League outings for the Hammers.

That form forced him back into England contention, and although he was ultimately cut from Gareth Southgate's final selection for Euro 2020, it was evidence that perhaps his United career was not over as many would have suggested in January.

West Ham have been credited with a desire to bring him back to the London Stadium, though for the time being he will be remaining at Old Trafford.

"Jesse has come back, he's been bright and he wants to fight for his place," Solskjaer said. "There's nothing better than seeing players willing to fight for their place. Of course, what he did towards the end of the season, that is the true Jesse.

"That's what we know he is capable of. I think we saw towards the end [of our own season] that we lacked maybe some options at times."

Facundo Pellistri seems set to depart on loan again, however. The Uruguayan winger, 20, scored the winning goal for United on Sunday in a generally encouraging second-half outing, but Solskjaer expects him to leave temporarily having spent part of 2020-21 with Deportivo Alaves.

"I thought he was bright and he took his goal really well," Solskjaer said. "Great first touch, good pass by Shola [Shoretire], but great first touch with sets him up.

"It was a very good goal, the first touch set him up and he's very good at dribbling so going past the goalkeeper wasn't a problem. He was bright when he came on.

"I think he showed what he is because he's a difficult player to play against. One against one he can go past people so very pleased with him.

"I can see a loan deal for him, there's been loads of interest and for his best interests a loan would be what we look for."

Gianfranco Zola believes there is little prospect of social media platforms becoming safe spaces for sports stars, warning: "Bad people will always be there."

England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were subjected to racist abuse online after their penalty shoot-out misses in the Euro 2020 final.

Those failures from the spot helped Italy to land their second European Championship triumph.

There have been calls for the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to police their platforms more effectively, with 19-year-old Saka urging the three tech giants to each step up their game.

Former Italy and Chelsea forward Zola told Stats Perform: "Racial abuse is unjustifiable, unforgivable and unacceptable. I reckon that youngsters have to understand very quick that not all people they come across on social media are good.

"They use it to provoke, insult, abuse and vent their daily frustrations. We have to get used to it and learn how to isolate from this. Especially young people who are famous like footballers.

"These are all unjustifiable attacks but we have to learn how to isolate from it all because these bad people will always be there."

Zola, who enjoyed a seven-year spell at Chelsea and collected 35 caps for the Azzurri, explained there is a "dark side of social media".

He said: "Many people use [social media] in an absurd way and can cause damage to kids who are on social media and are not ready to accept all this.

"If you are into social media, you have to be aware these can be used by people to insult and destabilise. This is the dark side."

Kieran Gibbs took strength from the pushback against the racism aimed at Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka after England's penalties heartbreak.

Former England defender Gibbs, who was speaking at his Inter Miami presentation, believes the fallout from the Euro 2020 final highlighted the best and worst of society in his home country.

Saka said on Thursday that he "knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive", and called on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to tighten up controls over content on their platforms.

Sancho and Rashford have also spoken out powerfully this week. A mural of Rashford's image in Manchester was defaced before it became a positive focal point in the local community, with messages of praise, sympathy and solidarity posted on the wall.

"I'm pleased with the reaction from the country," said Gibbs. "Maybe not the initial reaction. Obviously, most things these days are spoiled by a few individuals.

"But the way everyone has responded is testament to the country and where we're at in society.

"i was really pleased to see that, especially being on this side of the water when the game was on.

"I still felt that attachment from home and it was great to see."

Gibbs is relishing his chance to make an impact in Major League Soccer, joining a team who have made a slow start to their second campaign, collecting only eight points from 11 games under Phil Neville's leadership.

 

They have scored just nine goals and conceded 17 already. Neville's side are slightly underperforming against their expected goals (11.3 xG) and expected goals against (16.3 xGA) figures.

Gibbs, 31, who made over 200 appearances for Arsenal before joining West Brom in 2017, will be expected to add strength to the defensive unit.

Inter Miami will also be hoping Gibbs can turn back the clock and bring some of his creative spark to MLS.

In 2017-18, the last campaign where he made more than 20 top-flight appearances, Gibbs created 22 goalscoring chances from his left-back station for West Brom. That was the fourth highest number on the team.

 

Gibbs said of his move to Miami: "It's just a challenge for me to grow as a person off the pitch.

"I've been in the UK all my life and had everything done for me in a way because that's the route that you go down.

"I want to try and explore a different side of life, a challenge of setting up a new life somewhere else and seeing how it goes. I felt that this was the best place to do that.

"I come here humble, I don't want any expectation, I just come willing to give 100 per cent and the rest will be history."

Gibbs could make his debut for Inter Miami on Saturday as Neville takes his struggling team on the road to face the New York Red Bulls.

Marcus Rashford will miss the start of the new Premier League season after opting to have shoulder surgery following Euro 2020, according to reports.

The Manchester United forward, who missed a penalty in England's 3-2 shoot-out loss to Italy on Sunday before being a target of racist online abuse, is likely to be sidelined for approximately 12 weeks, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Manchester United's opening fixture of the 2021-22 Premier League season is against Leeds United on August 14.

Rashford had been hampered by the shoulder complaint during United's 2020-21 campaign and it had been reported he would have surgery after the Euros.

The 23-year-old scored 21 goals across 57 appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils last season.

He played a limited role for England off the bench at Euro 2020, with five substitute appearances.

Chris Waddle believes it is "embarrassing" that so much focus is put on England's failures in penalty shoot-outs.

England's hopes of ending their 55-year wait for a major trophy were dashed in Sunday's Euro 2020 final when Italy prevailed on spot-kicks at Wembley.

The Three Lions won their previous major tournament shoot-out against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup and then beat Switzerland by the same method at the Nations League Finals.

Manager Gareth Southgate, who famously missed from 12 yards in the Euro 96 semi-final against Germany, has worked hard to improve his team's processes.

But Marcus Rashford's shot against the post and Gianluigi Donnarumma's saves from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka handed England their seventh shoot-out defeat in nine at World Cups and European Championships. That is the worst record of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.

The first of those saw West Germany eliminate England at the 1990 World Cup after Waddle blazed his penalty over the crossbar.

But the former Newcastle United, Tottenham and Marseille winger says he was better for the experience and feels too much attention is paid to spot-kicks.

Kylian Mbappe and Alvaro Morata were other high-profile players to cost their sides in shoot-outs at Euro 2020, while only nine of the 17 attempts outside shoot-outs were converted.

"For me personally, when I missed mine, and I'm sure Stuart Pearce probably can say the same, we went on to be stronger players," Waddle told Stats Perform.

"I won three French titles, came back to England and had two cup finals with Sheffield Wednesday, could've won one. I won Footballer of the Year. Things went great.

"I was determined it wasn't going to play on my mind, I was determined that I would never crawl into a corner and hide away.

"I missed a pen. Who hasn't? Yeah, people might say the magnitude of the game obviously got more publicity than [it] normally would, but they've all missed.

"You can go through other players. I don't really know a player who's had a 100 per cent record at penalties.

"So, yeah, you can say this game is different from that game and that game, but overall, you can go through the greatest players in your mind and they've missed. You move on. It's life.

"It's a horrible way to lose a game. People say to me it's a pen, it's 12 yards out, you've got a free shot. It doesn't work like that.

"You can mis-hit it, you can hit it too well, you can get the wrong idea, the goalie guesses the right way.

"You know, we make so much [of it]. We're the only country in the world, by the way, who make such a thing about penalty kicks.

"When I was in France, if they go out, it's not even mentioned. It's like history. 'We shouldn't have been in that position, the game should have been decided in 120 minutes'. You've got 120 minutes to win a football match.

"I've seen a lot of teams lose and go out of tournaments to it; that's the end of it, you move on.

"And the more we talk about Saka, Sancho, Rashford, it's not helping them, it's not helping England, so move on.

"We know it's a common occurrence people do miss pens. We see it in the Premier League, we saw in this tournament: the first seven pens, four were missed. It happens.

"You know, we make such a deal of it. And it's embarrassing, really, I've got to say."

Sunday's match was the second example – after the 2006 World Cup loss to Portugal – of England failing with three penalties in a single shoot-out, and Southgate's decision to name Rashford, Sancho and Saka in his order has been questioned.

Outside of shoot-outs, Rashford had scored nine of 11 attempts for Manchester United and three of three for England. Sancho scored all three of his for Borussia Dortmund.

But they were introduced specifically for penalties with just moments remaining in extra time, while Saka, just 19, had never previously taken a senior spot-kick.

Waddle said: "It sort of backfired, didn't it?

"All Gareth can go off is he's experienced the same scenario as what happened to the players. In training there is no way you can compare.

"That's why people say to me, 'Did you practise in training in 1990?'. No, we didn't really. And people said we should have.

"Now they've practised probably more than any team in the competition. And they've lost.

"You can't sort of play that part of walking from the centre spot to the penalty spot to take a pen in a major competition where there's 60,000 there.

"And you remember you've got 30, 40, 50 million, maybe more around Europe and the world, watching this game. So, you just can't do it.

"The training ground is nowhere near a proper match in a proper penalty shoot-out. There's no comparison to a training ground.

"Now obviously Gareth saw them in the training; by the looks of it, probably Saka has never missed on the training ground.

"But it's a different proposition when you're walking there, the pressure's on and I can see why people said experienced players should've [gone ahead of Saka].

"Gareth said that was his call, he saw the penalty takers through the tournament practising and they were the ones who caught his eye. So, all he can go off is what he saw.

"And I don't think there's any way around [that]. People said it should have been [Jordan] Henderson and it should have been [Jack] Grealish or it should have been [John] Stones or whoever.

"You can only go with what you see on your eye, and if the player says yes. So, when he's gone, 'You, you, you', and they've gone, 'Yes, yes, yes', that's out of Gareth's hands then.

"And if any player was in any doubt, or slightly in doubt, he should have said it doesn't feel right. And somebody else I'm sure would have said, 'Yeah, I'll have it'.

"We'll learn from that; hopefully Gareth will learn from that. The players will. It's a horrible way to lose."

Marcus Rashford will come back stronger following his penalty miss against Italy and will not be put off from taking spot-kicks for Manchester United, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 23-year-old was one of three England players to fail to convert from 12 yards in Sunday's Euro 2020 final shoot-out loss to Italy, clipping the post with his attempt at Wembley.

Rashford, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, have all suffered racist abuse on social media, prompting an angry response from the Football Association, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate.

A mural of Rashford in Manchester was defaced after the game, though supporters have since covered the graffiti with positive messages for the United academy product, who posted an emotional thank you message on social media on Monday.

United boss Solskjaer understands Rashford's disappointment at missing a penalty in such a crucial game and has praised the forward for stepping forward in the first place in such a high-pressure situation.

"You know the thing is when you step up to take a penalty, I think you've already won," Solskjaer told United's official website on Tuesday. "You've taken on the responsibility and I'm sure many of the players are hoping I don't want to take a penalty.

"So I think it’s a great character trait to step up and say I will deal with it, and the consequences. You might be the hero or the one who misses. That's football.  You learn from it and definitely come back stronger.

"I've not seen many people, at this club anyway, who lay down and say I'll not take a penalty anymore. I know Marcus is going to put his hand up and say he wants to take one for us."

England have now won just two of their nine major tournament shoot-outs, with that 22 per cent win rate the lowest of any European national team to have been involved in three or more.

Luke Shaw had earlier given England the lead at Wembley with a volley after one minute and 57 seconds, making it the earliest goal ever scored in a European Championship final, before Leonardo Bonucci equalised to take the game the distance.

Full-back Shaw also racked up three assists, his four goal involvements across the tournament being bettered only by the Czech Republic's Patrik Schick (five) and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (six).

He also enjoyed a good campaign at club level in 2020-21 and Solskjaer is pleased to see the defender add goals and assists to his game.

"I'm so happy for Luke," Solskjaer said. "I was watching it and thinking 'what's just happened?' He started the attack and we've encouraged him to get into the last third.

"We know how technically gifted he is and skilful he is and he hit the ball very, very sweetly. 

"He keeps his eye on the ball, straight laces and it's margins again – off the post and in, not off the post and out. That's football for you. Luke deserves all the luck he can get. He's had a tremendous couple of years with us."

Solskjaer knows all too well about the disappointment of losing a shoot-out, with United having suffered heartbreak at the hands of Villarreal in May's Europa League final.

"Obviously, we know the feeling the whole of England had after the game," the Norwegian added. 

"One kick decides the whole mood. An even game, maybe Italy bossed possession a little bit, of course, but when it comes to penalty shoot-outs, anything can happen, as we know from our own last game.

"It's hard on the boys but that's football sometimes. You just have to deal with it and move on. I know the whole atmosphere in the country has been so great and, of course, it's an anti-climax. I know that."

Former Football Association (FA) chairman David Triesman believes the UK government must act to enforce tougher measures to prevent online racial abuse.

England players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were all targeted with racial abuse on social media following the Three Lions' penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

The FA and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson released statements condemning the abuse, while Gareth Southgate and England captain Harry Kane reiterated the stance of England's squad, who have taken the knee prior to kick-off in every game of Euro 2020.

A mural of Rashford in Manchester was also defaced, though well-wishers covered the graffiti with messages of support for the 23-year-old, whose efforts off the pitch have resulted in a government policy shift over the last year.

But Triesman, a member of the House of Lords who was the FA's chairman from 2008 to 2010, insists now is the time for stricter action.

"Well, it is a way in which people show their beliefs and their solidarity with their colleagues who come from different ethnic backgrounds and that's not a bad thing," Triesman told Stats Perform when asked for his views on England taking the knee.

"The fact that people do something that's visible together, I don't think is a bad thing. But I think what we must get past is politicians saying that they don't like it or saying that it's outrageous, and saying it [racism] cannot be tolerated, and then doing nothing about it, which is tantamount to tolerating it.

"And that's why I think it has to be translated into action. I really, I think it's true in many things in life, it's certainly true in politics, but it's true in football as well. It's not so much what you say, it's what you do. It's when people see what you do, and they can see what you say and what you're doing are the same thing.

"The change will only come if the football authorities and political authorities come together and say they are going to make changes and spell out what those changes are.

"I think that part of this has to be a legislative change in which the people who run the media platforms so often just describe themselves as the postman, they don't know what's under the envelope. I don't buy that at all. That's a recipe for seeing children abused online. It's a recipe for bullying. 

"We've seen all of these things. It's not like they're a mystery to us anymore and I think the media platforms have got to be held to account, even if it means that a very rich source of the material that goes on to them is simply cut off. There's a point at which people have to face their responsibilities."

Triesman added that the onus is also on the FA to take tougher action, as well as lobbying the government.

"If we catch them in grounds being racist and abusive, that should be the last day they get into a ground to see football," he continued.

"Stamp it out. Football can do a lot of this itself. But if it needs extra powers – if I was still at the FA I would be knocking on the door of government today saying, 'Here are the powers I've got, I'm going to use them. If I think they're deficient, I want more powers, because I'm absolutely determined'."

Marcus Rashford has posted an emotional thanks for the support he has received following his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final, despite the Manchester United forward having been the recipient of racial abuse.

Rashford hit the post with his spot-kick in England's 3-2 shoot-out defeat to Italy – Gianluigi Donnarumma subsequently saving efforts from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

United star Rashford had been introduced by Gareth Southgate in the dying embers of extra time at Wembley, seemingly specifically with penalties in mind.

After the game, the 23-year-old – whose fight for children to have access to free school meals has led to a shift in UK government policy – along with Saka, Sancho and Raheem Sterling, was targetted by hateful messages on social media.

Channel 4, quoting a report by data company Signify, claimed close to 2,000 racially abusive tweets had been sent to the four players.

Southgate, the Football Association (FA) and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson all condemned the perpetrators, while England captain Harry Kane insisted anybody posting such messages was not wanted by the team as a supporter.

Meanwhile, a mural of Rashford in Withington, Manchester, was defaced overnight.

However, supporters of Rashford have since covered the graffiti with messages of support, while United's official Twitter account posted: "We're all behind you, @MarcusRashford.

"As a player. As a person. As an inspiration to our club and our supporters. As a representation of hope that there is plenty more good than bad in the world."

On Monday, Rashford posted an emotional message, firstly apologising for his missed penalty.

"I don't even know where to start and I don't even know how to put into words how I'm feeling at this exact time," Rashford wrote.

"I've had a difficult season, I think that's been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence. I've always backed myself for a penalty but something didn't feel quite right.

"During the long run up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted. I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I'd let everyone down.

"A penalty was all I'd been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep so why not that one? It's been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there's probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. One penalty. History.

"All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of [sic] gone differently. Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout out my team-mates. This summer has been one of the best camps I've experienced and you've all played a role in that. A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine."

He then went on to thank the well-wishers for their support, though reiterated he would never apologise for "who I am and where I came from."

“I've grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch," Rashford continued.

"I've felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands. I dreamt of days like this. The messages I've received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears.

"The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up. I'm Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that."

Jude Bellingham has spoken out on the racist abuse directed at England team-mates Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, calling for social media platforms to do more.

Bellingham was among the substitutes for the Three Lions as they lost on penalties to Italy in Sunday's Euro 2020 final.

Saka, Rashford and Sancho each stepped off the bench in the 1-1 draw and missed spot-kicks in the 3-2 shoot-out defeat. Saka's failed effort, saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, was decisive.

The trio were subsequently the subject of racist abuse, which the Football Association condemned, and manager Gareth Southgate described as "unforgivable".

Bellingham, the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder, added his anger on social media alongside an image showing Saka, Rashford and Sancho wearing crowns.

"We win together and we lose together," he said. "So proud to have team-mates with such top character. Takes huge b******s just to volunteer [to take a penalty].

"As for the racism, hurtful but not surprising. Will never get bored of saying that more needs to be done. Educate and control the platforms!"

Bellingham celebrated his 18th birthday while away with the England team, having become their youngest player at a major tournament when he appeared from the bench against Croatia.

That was the first of three substitute appearances, tallying 55 minutes across wins over Croatia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

Following defeat in the Wembley showpiece, Bellingham posted: "A devastating end to a journey we can be very proud of.

"Very grateful to have been given the experience to share a pitch and changing room with such a great group of players and people. Thank you for your incredible support over the past few weeks.

"It wasn't to be but our time will come... Always believe!"

Gareth Southgate wants his England squad to heal together following the pain of losing the Euro 2020 final - and insisted abuse aimed towards any of his players is "unforgiveable".

England's hopes of glory at Wembley on Sunday were dashed by Italy in a penalty shoot-out, during which substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka failed to convert from the spot.

The trio were targets for racist online abuse in the aftermath to the match. The Football Association condemned such behaviour in a strongly worded statement, as well as calling on both the government and social media companies to take action to stop such incidents continuing to occur.

Speaking the morning after his team's heartbreaking defeat, England boss Southgate made clear his squad had been a "beacon of light" during the European Championship, helping unite the nation during their impressive run.

"I'm not totally across everything, but my first thoughts this morning are with the boys that have done so well for us," he said.

"The players have had such a great togetherness and spirit and brought our country together. They should be, and I think they are, incredibly proud of what they have done.

"For some of them to be abused is unforgivable. Some of it has come from abroad, we have been told this, but some of it is from this country.

"It's not what we stand for. We have been a beacon of light to bring people together and the national team stands for everybody. That togetherness has to continue.

"We felt the energy and positivity from the fans and I'm incredibly proud of that."

Southgate added: "We heal together as a team now, we are there for them [the players who missed penalties] and I know that 99 per cent of the public will be as well, because they will appreciate how well they have played."

 

England seized an early lead thanks to Luke Shaw's first international goal after less than two minutes but were pegged back by Leonardo Bonucci's second-half equaliser, forcing extra time.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved penalties from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho, yet Saka saw his attempt - England's fifth - turned away by Gianluigi Donnarumma, meaning Italy prevailed 3-2 at the end of an dramatic shoot-out.

While his focus will have to quickly switch to securing qualification for next year's World Cup in Qatar, Southgate admitted he is in need of a break.

Asked about reports he could be offered a new contract, Southgate replied: "I don't think now is an appropriate time to be thinking about it.

"We have to qualify for Qatar. I need time to go away and reflect on Euro 2020. I need a rest.

"Its an amazing experience to lead your country in these tournaments, but it takes a toll. I don't want to commit to anything longer than I should. It's not a financial thing.

"I don't want to outstay my welcome. But, as I sit here today, I would be wanting to take the team to Qatar."

Gareth Southgate acknowledged it was a "gamble" to bring on substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to take penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

England suffered a 3-2 defeat to Italy in the shootout, after the match finished 1-1, with Rashford striking the post before Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

England have won just 22 per cent (two out of nine) of their major tournament shootouts, the lowest ratio of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.

When asked if Rashford and Sancho, both brought off the bench in extra-time a few minutes before the shootout, might have been "cold", Southgate said the decision was one fraught with danger.

"That is the risk you run but they have been the best in the lead in, and to throw all those attacking players on you have to do it late," he told ITV.

"You have got to have balance to the team. You can't just throw on attacking players earlier, or you lose your shape and don't have a foothold in the game.

"It was a gamble but if we gambled earlier in the game, we maybe lose the game in extra time. I chose the guys to take the kicks."

Southgate revealed England's order for the penalty kicks had already been decided in advance of the Wembley final, and said the decision to let Saka take one was his alone.

He added: "It's my decision to give him that penalty so that is totally my responsibility. Not his. 

"The same with Marcus or Jadon. We work together, worked through them in training, that was the order that we came to.

"I said afterwards that nobody was on their own in that situation [missing a penalty]. 

"We decided to make the changes late in the game and we lose together as a team. The players have been tight throughout and that's how it will stay."

Southgate said he was proud of England's overall display in the tournament although felt they were poor in possession in the final.

"In the end we were not quite able to see the game through in normal time and Italy showed the outstanding team they are with 30 plus games unbeaten," he explained.

"Our players have to be proud of themselves. Every one of them has been exceptional. First time we have to a final and we are very disappointed not go on a step further.

"Italy have some outstanding players but we didn't keep the ball well enough in that initial period in the second half. We changed the shape to get more of a grip. It was a lack of composure in possession which turned the game."

England will now switch their focus to next year's World Cup in Qatar, although Southgate needs time to let the wounds heal from this defeat.

"It's hard to reflect at this moment because the disappointment is enormous for all us," he said.

"The players have done us proud. The way the nation have got behind us. I know tonight has burst the balloon. But I hope everyone remembers what this group has given them.

"We have given everyone some fantastic nights and we wanted to give them one more and came close to having done that. It's hard for me to put that into words at the moment.

"At this moment it is hard to look that far ahead. This was a wonderful opportunity and we need let that sink in before thinking about Qatar."

Marcus Rashford can get the most out of Paul Pogba at Manchester United should he learn to make runs in behind like Kylian Mbappe, according to club legend Wayne Rooney.

Pogba had been one of the standout performers at Euro 2020 prior to France's shock elimination at the hands of Switzerland at the last-16 stage.

The 28-year-old scored one and set up another in Les Bleus' four matches at the tournament, while also creating eight chances for his team-mates.

He completed nine dribbles – a tally bettered by only eight others, some of whom have played a game more – while his 51 passes into the final third is the sixth-most of any player.

Rooney believes a big part of Pogba's impressive performances was down to the movement of striker Mbappe, who ended the competition goalless despite having 14 shots.

And United's all-time leading goalscorer has challenged England forward Rashford to replicate Mbappe's positioning in order to unlock Pogba's best form at club level.

"Give Paul time and space and he has the ability and imagination to really hurt the opposition," Rooney said in his Times column. 

"Mbappe had a poor Euros overall but he did contribute to Paul's success. Teams sat off France because they were worried about Mbappe's pace.

"That helped buy Paul that bit of room to play in, and Mbappe's ability to run in behind allowed Paul to play a type of pass that he is so good at, the brave throughball right down the middle of the pitch.

"At United, if Marcus Rashford can develop his game and be encouraged to start making those Mbappe-style runs in behind, I believe you would see Paul doing more of what he does for his country in a club shirt."

Rashford has featured from the substitutes' bench in four of semi-finalists England's five Euro 2020 games so far, but he has yet to score, assist or even have a shot.

At club level, Rashford scored 21 goals for United in all competitions last season and became the first English player to score eight times for the club in European competition in a single season since Bobby Charlton in 1964-65.

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