London (AFP) – Marcus Rashford is to become the youngest person to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester for his work campaigning against child poverty and his sporting achievements.
The 22-year-old Manchester United and England forward will follow in the footsteps of United greats Alex Ferguson and Bobby Charlton in earning the accolade from the university, which is the highest honour it can bestow.
Last month he forced a government U-turn after he wrote an open letter to MPs asking for the reversal of a decision not to award free school meal vouchers to vulnerable children outside term time.
The striker said his family relied on free school meals when he was growing up.
During the coronavirus pandemic he has also teamed up with poverty and food waste charity FareShare to help raise millions to provide meals for vulnerable people.
Rashford said in a statement: “It’s a proud day for myself and my family. When you look at the great names that have been awarded this doctorate in the past, it’s humbling.
“We still have a long way to go in the fight to combat child poverty in this country, but receiving recognition from your city means we are heading in the right direction and that means a lot.”
The university’s president and vice-chancellor Nancy Rothwell said: “Marcus is an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent and drive that stretches well beyond the football field.
“His work for charity and his high-profile campaign will not only help countless young people across our own city, but across the entire country.”
The Football Association tweeted offering “huge congratulations” to Rashford, adding it was “deserved recognition for your remarkable efforts”.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed his player.
“We’re so proud of Marcus,” Solskjaer said. “I’ve said it a few times, but he’s a great person and great human being. He cares about so much more than himself.”