Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford dedicated his MBE to his mother as he vowed there was more to come in his campaign to help disadvantaged children.
The 24-year-old England international said his motivation was to give the nation’s youngsters the things he did not have when growing up and stressed every child deserves an “opportunity”.
Rashford waged a high-profile campaign last year to persuade the Government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters in England throughout the school holidays during the coronavirus pandemic, forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson into a U-turn.
Speaking after a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony, the player said he would be giving his MBE to his mother Melanie, who raised him and his four siblings.
He said: “It seems like there’s a lot going on but for me to put it in the simplest way – I’m trying to give children the things I didn’t have when I was kid. If I did have, I would have been much better off and had many more options in my life.
“I’m just giving them the opportunity and I think they deserve the opportunity – what child doesn’t? For me it’s a punishment for them not to be getting things like meals or supplies of books.
“And if we can all come together to make these small changes – they are small changes but they become big changes once you see the rewards of it – I see a generation that’s coming after me as a very special generation. They just need a bit of guidance and pointing in the right direction and what I’m doing is giving them that.”
Accolades have already been bestowed on the footballer, with the striker becoming the youngest recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester, which he received last month in recognition of his campaign against child poverty.
Rashford will also be honoured with a special award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony on December 19, after the judging panel unanimously agreed his work off the pitch should be commended.