icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
28 May, 2021 15:30

‘Marcus is way ahead of where I was at 23’: Barack Obama heaps praise on footballer-turned-social-activist Rashford (VIDEO)

‘Marcus is way ahead of where I was at 23’: Barack Obama heaps praise on footballer-turned-social-activist Rashford (VIDEO)

Former US president Barack Obama has paid tribute to Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford after the two took part in a video call aimed at showcasing the impact that young people can make to help change society.

Rashford, 23, has become a prominent voice for youth culture in the UK in recent times, demonstrated by the unceasing campaign undertaken by the England international to help provide free school lunches for underprivileged children.

His tireless efforts led to Boris Johnson's government investing £520 million (around $737 million) in the scheme, which helped deliver more than 130 million meals in the ongoing fight against child poverty.

Rashford has also launched a program designed to educate children about food and nutrition, 'Full Time Meals', as well as launching a book club for disadvantaged children.

Rashford's efforts earned the player an MBE in the Queen's end of year honors list last year, but in the Zoom conversation, which is available to view on the Penguin Books YouTube channel, it was clear that Obama is also among Rashford's admirers. 

After Rashford overcame the initial novelty of the conversation ("It’s quite surreal, isn’t it? I’m sitting in my kitchen in Manchester speaking to President Obama"), the conversation took several different turns, with the pair talking about their similar experiences growing up, such as being raised by a single mother and the overwhelming feeling they both felt about giving back to the communities which fostered them.

And Obama was full of praise for the Manchester United man.

"A lot of the young people I meet – including Marcus – they’re ahead of where I was when I was 23. They’re already making changes and being positive forces in their communities," said the ex-head of state.

"Even if you do something positive on a small scale, that’s making a difference, and it’s the accumulation of people doing positive things over time that makes us a little bit better with each successive generation."

The conversation soon turned to books, with Rashford saying that an interest in literature at a young age can help provide a strong foundation for a young person to thrive.

"Through books, you can grow yourself in whichever way you want," Rashford said. "Books allowed me to do it my own way."

Both Obama and Rashford are published authors, with the footballer's first book, 'You Are a Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be' hitting the shelves this week.

Also on rt.com Man Utd forward Rashford gets barrage of racist abuse – including ‘monkey emojis from maths teacher’ – after Europa League defeat

Speaking afterwards, Rashford said that he hadn't expected to have had so much in common with Obama. Despite growing up in different generations and thousands of miles away from one another, he said there were more than a few factors which united them. 

"It wasn't long before I realized just how aligned our experiences as children were in shaping the men you see today – adversity, obstacles and all," he said.

"I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. When President Obama speaks, all you want to do is listen."

Also on rt.com Paying the price: Man Utd ‘lose out on £200 million training kit deal’ after sponsors run scared over protests against US owners