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.
The 22-year-old Manchester United and England forward will follow in the footsteps of United greats Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir 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 University of Manchester (@OfficialUoM) July 15, 2020
The Wythenshawe-born striker said his family relied on free school meals when he was growing up.
During the coronavirus pandemic, he also teamed up with poverty and food waste charity FareShare to help raise £20 million, which meant 3.9 million meals could be distributed to vulnerable people every week.
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. Thank you to The University of Manchester.”
He later tweeted: “Very humbled, thank you @OfficialUoM.”
The university’s president and vice-chancellor Professor Dame 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.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 15, 2020
“Our university has social responsibility at its core and this sense of civic pride and duty is something we are proud to share with Marcus. That is why the university is delighted to make Marcus our youngest ever recipient of an honorary degree.”
A Manchester United spokesman said: “Marcus is an exceptional player and an exceptional person. His work with FareShare and his focus on child poverty make him richly deserving of this tremendous honour and everyone at Manchester United is incredibly proud of him.”
Rashford will receive the honorary doctorate later this summer, the university said.
The Football Association tweeted offering “huge congratulations” to Rashford, adding it was “deserved recognition for your remarkable efforts.”
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Rashford.
“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 and the work he’s done shows he cares so much more about others than himself.
“So, very proud of him and hopefully he’ll keep his personality for the rest of his life, just keep on being yourself.”