Hundreds of tributes to Marcus Rashford on mural will be preserved

Hundreds of tributes to Marcus Rashford left at his defaced mural are removed and will be preserved at library and on a virtual ‘Wall of Hope’

  • Marcus Rashford mural was defaced following England’s defeat in the Euro final 
  • Fans covered abuse on the south Manchester mural with hearts and messages
  • The redecoration will be preserved in a library and on a virtual ‘Wall of Hope’

Hundreds of tributes to Marcus Rashford left at his defaced mural have been removed and will be preserved at a library and on a virtual ‘Wall of Hope’.  

The mural of the Manchester United and England striker in Withington in south Manchester was defaced following the Euro 2020 final shoot-out defeat to Italy earlier this month. 

Rashford and team-mates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, were targeted for racist abuse on social media after their missed penalties in the tense shoot-out. 

Manchester residents redecorated Rashford’s mural with hearts and messages calling the player a ‘hero’ and a ‘role model’ after the artwork was defaced with graffiti in what Greater Manchester Police called a ‘racially aggravated’ act of vandalism. 

The messages will be preserved in a virtual ‘Wall of Hope’, as well as a new ‘Hope Beats Hate’ mural at nearby Kingsway Football Club, commission by Withington Walls in partnership with BT’s Hope United campaign.

Hundreds of tributes to Marcus Rashford left at his defaced mural have been removed and will be preserved at a library and on a virtual ‘Wall of Hope’

The mural, in Withington in south Manchester, was defaced after Rashford missed a penalty during the Euro 2020 final shoot-out defeat to Italy earlier this month

Rashford said: ‘At one of my lowest points, the outpouring of support around this mural really lifted me and I’m truly grateful for that.

‘It reinforced my belief in the strength of community and the endless pictures being shared of visits left me feeling really overwhelmed.

‘I wanted to capture that feeling and bank it for more people to experience and am grateful to BT for enabling me to do that. 

‘These messages are not just mine. They belong to everyone. And I hope they can bring joy to many for months to come.’  

Withington Walls founder Ed Wellard said: ‘The response to the vandalism of the Rashford mural has been incredible. 

‘What started with one small act of positivity, with those first hearts and messages of love and respect, inspired thousands more messages on the wall and online.

‘Love drowned out the hate making us all feel more hopeful. 

‘This project is rooted in the community and it has been great to work with the Hope United to make a positive impact here in South Manchester, and keep spreading the love.’   

People have left written notes, messages on paper love hearts and England flags and tops on the mural in support of Rashford, who was racially abused online in the aftermath of England’s defeat


Residents had wasted little time in rushing to cover up the abuse with hundreds of positive notes and messages praising the England star – including terms such as ‘hero’, ‘inspiration’ and ‘role model’ 

One heartfelt letter taped to the mural began: ‘You need to know how much you are loved, admired and respected – I really hope you do’

The ‘Hope Beats Hate’ mural features a QR code which allows virtual access to the messages of support posted on the ‘Wall of Hope’.

The original physical messages will be taken down and stored at Manchester’s Central Library, the city council said. 

Stormy weather on Thursday damaged some of the messages but local officials were confident all could be preserved. 

Once the preservation process has been completed, they will be archived. In the meantime, the virtual wall remains the only place to see them.

The mural on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe in Withington was defaced with derogatory comments about Rashford and included the words ‘sh**e’ and ‘b*****d’. Further graffiti said ‘f**k Sancho’ – a reference to Rashford’s Three Lions teammate Jadon Sancho, who also missed a penalty. 

Residents wasted little time in rushing to cover up the abuse with embellishments still streaming in all daubed with inspirational terms including ‘hero’, ‘inspiration’ and ‘role model’


The racist graffiti daubed on a mural of Marcus Rashford in the wake of his Euro 2020 penalty heartache has been covered with hundreds of positive notes and messages praising the England star

The embellishments were all daubed with a range of uplifting and supportive phrases including ‘positive’, ‘role model’, and ‘an asset to the country’

Greater Manchester Police called the defacing of the Rashford mural a ‘racially aggravated’ act of vandalism as the community rallied round

In a statement, GMP slammed the ‘racially aggravated’ and ‘disgraceful’ damage, adding: ‘Hate crime in any form is completely unacceptable and not welcome here in our city.’ The force was alerted at around 2.50am this morning. No arrests have been made and inquiries are ongoing. 

Chief Superintendent Paul Savill said: ‘This is disgraceful behaviour and will absolutely not be tolerated. Greater Manchester prides itself on being made up from a number of diverse communities, and hate crime in any form is completely unacceptable and not welcome here in our city. 

‘GMP takes crimes of this nature very seriously and an investigation has been launched. If anyone has any information that could help us to identify this offender please do not hesitate to speak to police.’ 

The artwork was created by Akse, a French-born graffiti artist, in November 2020. A painting of Rashford appears alongside the phrase: ‘Take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose’. 

The Football Association has condemned the ‘disgusting behaviour’ of a small number of mindless social media users who aimed abuse at players in the wake of England’s loss to the Italians.

On July 13, England manager Gareth Southgate described abuse of Rashford, Sancho and Bukayo Saka as ‘unforgivable’ after they were targeted by racists overnight after they missed penalties. 

He spoke out after Prince William and Prime Minister Boris Johnson denounced the racist abuse.

The Football Association has condemned the ‘disgusting behaviour’ of a small number of mindless social media users who aimed abuse at players in the wake of England’s loss to the Italians

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