Jurgen Klopp has lauded Marcus Rashford’s efforts to combat child poverty in the face of government opposition, with the Liverpool boss hailing the Manchester United star’s actions as “incredible” while professing his pride in the striker’s actions.
Red Devils forward Rashford has spent much of the year spearheading a campaign to ensure free school meal vouchers for disadvantaged children during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent national lockdown, forcing the Conservative government into a U-turn after they initially declined to extend the scheme.
The 22-year-old was cited in the Queen’s Birthday Honours earlier this year for his work, and was an MBE, but has refused to shortchange his goals in the face of stiff parlimentary opposition.
After a Labour-backed motion was defeated in the House of Commons this week, Rashford has found further assistance from a myriad of councils and businesses in recent days, who have vowed to provide free meals for those children in need during the upcoming October half-term break.
The England attacker’s efforts have broken down traditional boundaries among the sporting community in an act of shared kinship, with many of his peers lending their voices in support as he has continued to fight tirelessly.
Speaking ahead of the Reds’ match with Sheffield United tomorrow, Klopp has become the latest figure in football to praise Rashford for his determination and actions, describing him as a “role model” while paying tribute to his professionalism on and off the field.
“I’m not sure I can find any better words than other and much smarter people than me said about it,” the German told his pre-match press conference. “But what Marcus started there is absolutely incredible and it’s so nice.
“With all the rivalry between the clubs and stuff like this, in these moments as footballers – and as human beings – [we are] always united.
“It’s just nice to show in a time when obviously a lot of people who are really in charge of something and don’t show any sign of proper leadership, that a boy grown up in difficult circumstances, blessed with a sensational talent obviously, never forgot his roots and where he is coming from.
“That he has to do it then is a bit of a shame but is wonderful as well. I hope his mother is really proud of him. I don’t know him but even I am. He plays for United, which makes it really tricky!
“But it’s really an absolutely wonderful, wonderful thing. Whatever praise he got – and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want the praise now anymore, it’s nice to do it once – that’s how it is.
“Now he is in the role and now he is the role model for that and that’s great. And it will not distract him from his football things. But, yeah, absolutely great and happy about it.”
Klopp pointed to the shared unity between Liverpool and Manchester – both of whom have found themselves the subject of some of the government’s strongest measures amid the pandemic in recent weeks – as further proof of football being able to bridge rivalries under one banner.
“Yes, that just shows that football can do really wondrous [things] in moments,” he added. “It shows as well that the subject is really serious. That’s why everybody puts the rivalry aside and just thinks about more important things in life. How I said, really happy that we can show this solidarity in these moments.”