Marcus Rashford has posted an emotional message on social media, speaking about his penalty miss during England's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy, but insisted he wouldn't apologise for who he is - in light of the racist comments sent his way after the game.
The Manchester United star was brought on by Gareth Southgate in the last minute of extra-time and was handed the responsibility of taking a spot-kick, but his effort clipped the post. Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka also missed their shots as Italy went on to win the shootout 3-2. The trio were also subject to racist abuse on social media.
In a statement on Twitter on Monday night, 23-year-old Rashford said: "I don't even know how to put into words how I'm feeling at this exact time. I've had a difficult season and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence. Ive 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. 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 over in my head — there's probably not a word to describe how it feels. Final. Fifty-five years. One penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had gone differently. Whilst I continue to say sorry, I want to shout out my team-mates. A brotherhood has been built and that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine."
Rashford also addressed the vile abuse he received and added: "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.
"I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough. But I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from. 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.
"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. For all the kind messages, thank you. I'll be back stronger. We'll be back stronger."
These incredibly strong words from Rashford led to fans across different clubs too drop in a message of support to him and his teammates. The fact that even Manchester City tweeted in support, showcases the impact of Rashford's words after the whole debacle.