King Charles visited Marcus Rashford's old youth club in Wythenshawe - and showed off his own football skills during a brief kickabout with youngsters. The King and Queen Consort also met England manager Gareth Southgate to discuss the work of the Prince's Trust as they spent around an hour at Norbrook Community Centre in Northern Moor on Friday.
And the King also enquired about Manchester United's fortunes as he asked a group of teenagers: 'Are they playing better now?' The visit was part of a whirlwind tour of Greater Manchester, with the monarch also visiting Bolton, the GCHQ headquarters in Manchester city centre and the Kellogg's factory in Trafford Park.
England manager Gareth Southgate sat down with Charles to hear the life stories of young people supported by The Prince’s Trust. The received a bookshelf unit crammed with children’s novels – picked by the footballer and Macmillan Children’s Books team – donated by the Marcus Rashford Book Club in partnership with the National Literacy Trust.
Southgate, an ambassador with the Prince’s Trust, when asked about the striker's role tackling issues like literacy and child hunger, replied: "He's been so impressive in being able to cope with it and to be thinking of other people. We're fortunate in our team, we've got a lot of young men who recognise the privilege they've got and the opportunity to help other people that have come from the same areas that they've come from… we are in his youth centre, aren't we."
In 2020, Rashford waged a high-profile campaign to persuade the Government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters in England throughout the school holidays during the coronavirus pandemic, forcing the then-prime minister Boris Johnson into a U-turn.
The England manager went on to say: "There will always be criticism but this is where Marcus grew up. He remembers the impact it had on his life and the opportunity he has to affect things positively for other people. I think we would all recognise that as an important part of growing as a human being."
The Queen Consort also sang the praises of Rashford when she unveiled a donation of books from the Manchester United striker to his former youth club and took part in a story-telling session with children from St Peter's primary school in Wythenshawe.
Camilla described the England player's gesture as 'wonderful' during a tour of the club, where as a schoolboy Rashford played pool with his friends when not training with his club. A framed England shirt now hangs above that same pool table.
Gavin Evans, chair of the centre's trustees and Rashford's former youth worker described the visit as 'one of the most wonderful moments of my life'.
He added: "We will never forget it. Today will be etched on the memories of everyone here." Gavin also spoke of his pride as being able to show off the work of the centre and the contribution Rashford has made to its success.
He said: "He has never forgotten this club and what it means to him. Four days before he made his England debut (as an 18-year-old in 2016) in was in here playing pool with his mates.
"I always say to the kids never forget your roots. Marcus Rashford is a huge advocate of that and it's wonderful to see how well he's doing and it's incredibly exciting for the centre to have that connection with him."
Read more of today's top stories here
- The tragedy of an 'adored' dad-of-three, 29, killed in tram crash
- Mum left with bald patches after 'drunk woman' hurled abuse and ripped out her hair in attack that halted Lewis Capaldi gig
- 'Selfish' parents caught parking across driveways near primary school
- The hilltop trail in Greater Manchester with stunning views on a clear winter’s day
- Perverted loner who took hundreds of pictures of women's bottoms is now behind bars