Jurgen Klopp has hailed Marcus Rashford after the Manchester United star helped force a crucial government U-turn on free school meals for children.
Rashford launched a campaign to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet to reverse its decision not to award free-meal vouchers to more than one million children in England outside of term time.
The England international wrote an open letter to MPs, and detailed his own experience growing up using food banks and receiving free school meals.
His lobbying forced a change in government policy, with the establishment of a £120 million ($149m) Covid Summer Food Fund confirmed earlier this week.
Speaking at a virtual press conference ahead of Liverpool’s return to Premier League action this weekend, Klopp praised Rashford’s campaign, and insisted football must continue to do all it can to affect social and political change where possible.
Klopp said: “What Marcus Rashford did, I could not respect more. It’s unbelievable. It’s a little bit of a shame that he had to do it, because things like this should be just natural.
“But there was something to do and he did the job in an incredible manner. What he did during lockdown was absolutely fantastic.”
Klopp also praised his own players who, led by captain Jordan Henderson, made significant contributions to local charitable causes during lockdown, and who were heavily involved in the creation of the #PlayersTogether initiative which will see crucial funds distributed to NHS charities across the UK.
“What Hendo and the players did during lockdown, I am proud but not surprised,” Klopp added. “They do a lot of things without talking about it, and that makes me proud.
“The players were ready to immediately help during this difficult time.”
Discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, meanwhile, Klopp insisted that football should not ignore political issues and should instead do all it can to make a difference.
“If football is a role model for anything in life it is for equality,” he said. “Wherever you are from, whatever country you are from, whichever colour you are, you are the same.
“I know it’s easy to say that, but it’s just completely natural for us in football. That’s how it should be everywhere. Judge people only because of who they are, nothing else.
“It is so dumb not to be like this, I cannot understand it but it is like this, so we have to stand up. We will do what we have to do to sort this situation, for now and for the future. We can’t change the past but we can change the future so we should all try.”