Marcus Rashford is to become the youngest ever recipient of an honorary degree from The University of Manchester, it has been announced today.

The 22-year-old will follow in the footsteps of Manchester United legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton by receiving an honorary doctorate, the highest honour the university can bestow.

The accolade is in recognition of his achievements on and off the pitch – both as a footballer and as a passionate campaigner against child poverty.

The young footballer’s dedication has taken him from the back pages of the newspapers to the front pages in recent weeks.

An open letter to Members of Parliament about his personal experiences of using foodbanks influenced a change in government policy, enabling children who have free school meals in term-time to continue receiving them during the summer.

In addition, Marcus’s collaboration with poverty and food waste charity, FareShare, led to £20million being raised in financial and food donations and 3.9 million meals being distributed to vulnerable people every week during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s a proud day for myself and my family,” said the footballer in a statement on the Manchester United site.

“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.”

Marcus is “an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent and drive that stretches well beyond the football field,” said The University of Manchester’s president and vice-chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.

“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.

“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.”

Marcus is “an exceptional player and an exceptional person”, said a spokesperson for United.”

“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.”

So is everyone in Manchester. Congratulations, Marcus.

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