17/06/2024 12:47 AM

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Marcus Rashford’s pre-game ritual for his ‘incredible’ late nanna to ensure she’s part of success

Marcus Rashford is almost as well known for his inspiring work off the pitch as he is for his skills on it.

Now the football ace, 23, wants a whole new generation to follow in his footsteps.

His new how-to guide You Are a Champion: How to Be the Best You can Be, jointly written with Carl Anka, is aimed at youngsters aged 10 and up.

In our first exclusive extract, he reveals what drives him…

I’ve supported Manchester United ever since I can remember, and I’ve been playing for them since 2016. It’s been an incredible few years.

I scored during my debut match, and the team has won some important trophies. I also play for the England team (I scored on my debut there, too!) and have been to a World Cup with them – that was an incredible experience.

What is your view? Have your say in the comment section







The Mirror is delighted to bring you our first exclusive extract from Marcus Rashford’s new book
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You might also know me for the charitable campaigns I helped organise in 2020.

Together with the food charity FareShare and the help of people up and down the country, we launched the End Child Food Poverty campaign to make sure that millions of children all over the UK had access to the food and support they needed, during the pandemic and beyond.

I’ve achieved some things in my life so far that I’m really proud of, and I want to go on to achieve so much more, but I couldn’t have done any of it without believing in myself and getting help from others.

Something I’ve always tried to remember is that there are no limits to what is possible in this life. I know it isn’t always the easiest of journeys, and that sometimes you might get stuck and need help, but you are capable of amazing things.







With proud mum Melanie at FareShare’s new Manchester warehouse
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Everyone is different, everyone has their own journey but, no matter who you are and no matter where you come from, every single person in the world has the potential to be a champion.

Family is really important to me, and I like to help people, too – that’s one reason why I work hard on things I’m passionate about, both on and off the pitch.

I’m the youngest of five siblings – I have two older brothers, Dwaine and Dane, and two sisters, Chantelle and Claire – and my mum’s name is Melanie. I love them all a lot.

I grew up by Button Lane in Wythenshawe, South Manchester, and I used to sleep on the top bunk in a bedroom I shared with Dane. We had a little TV on top of this set of cupboards, but some- times you’d have to give it a bang when the picture was getting fuzzy.







Marcus visited the FareShare which which named the new warehouse in his mother’s honour
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When I was growing up, my days used to follow a pretty standard pattern: I’d wake up, eat two Weetabix for breakfast (covered in sugar), I’d go to school, do the lessons, I’d play football at break time and lunch time, then at the end of the day I’d go home.

On the way I’d always look for a rock, or drink can, or anything I could pretend was a ball, so I could kick it home. Football has always been on my brain that way.

Some days I would go to the park after school, but if I couldn’t do that then I’d be playing football in my garden, working on my skills, or hanging out with my mates.







The Manchester United football star as a young lad
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That was me up until about the age of 11, which was when I moved into digs (a kind of house young players move to when they join a football academy) to be closer to Manchester United.

A lot of who I am now has stayed the same since I was a kid, but a lot of it has changed, too.

And no matter what has happened in my life, no matter what I’m working towards, I’m always Marcus. 100% Marcus Rashford. Because that’s the only person I can be.

And I want you to be you…






An illustration from the new book – Marcus wants you to be you





Nana Cillian was a key figure in the star’s life growing up

I want to tell you a little bit about my Nanna.

Nanna Cillian was one of the growing up, and practically lived at her house for six months when I was seven years old and my mum was trying to get us to move house.

My nanna was the type of person who seems to know everyone, knows where every- thing is and finds a way to make difficult things look really simple. She always thought ahead, had plans for everything and was always looking out for me.

I have the best memories of her house. Every time I went over, it was full of all these different smells; there was coffee, cinnamon, coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, all wafting through the place, and it was always full of laughter and happiness.

Every morning, after Nanna woke up, she would turn the kettle on, put something in the slow cooker for dinner and then start making corn- meal porridge.

And this porridge was amazing. It takes a really long time to make prop- erly, but it’s worth it – it’s one of the best things you will ever taste.

This porridge was so good that whenever I had some downtime or got even a little hungry I’d be asking her if I could have some.

And while I’d get it for breakfast, most of the time when I asked she’d tell me I couldn’t have it.

She went weeks without explaining why she’d always say ‘no’, but one day she sat me down and told me her reasoning.

She said, ‘If you keep asking for the same thing from the same person, you have a lot less chance of getting it. If you ask the same thing to loads of different people, you’re more likely to get what you’re asking for.’






‘There’s always more than one solution to a potential problem’

My nanna was always imparting life lessons when you least expected it.

Her explanation was about more than feeding me when I was hungry, it was her way of teaching me how to problem solve.

Nanna had this old Dell computer, and when I was staying with her she would let me use it to look up football clips.

At the time I had two favourite players, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, and I would watch both of them do football skills repeatedly, and then I’d practise those skills around the house.

But after my nan told me how it’s better to ask the same thing from different people, I started to change my approach.







Marcus Rashford is a hero footballer
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BBC / Paul Cooper)

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I realised that I would only learn so much by watching the same two people over and over again. I’d be better off asking the same question to lots of different footballers – not just my favourites, but ALL of the greats.

I started watching clips of Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Paul Scholes… loads of different types of players.

I wanted to understand what was going through their heads, not only so I could learn from them, but also so I could learn how to beat them.







Marcus was presented with a Daily Mirror Pride of Britain award
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CHRIS NEILL/MAVERICK PHOTOGRAPHY LIMITED)

Nanna Cillian passed away when I was 11 years old. I’m not going to dress this bit up – it was a terrible time in my life.

I was moving out of home to go to digs and this amazing woman, who had looked after my mum and my brothers and my sisters and me, was suddenly gone.

Sometimes you can lose someone and go through things that you’re not going to recover from in the same way.

There are some things that planning and questioning and hard work just can’t fix.

In times like those, what gets you through are the people around you.







He gives his mum so many things to be proud of him for
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Marcus Rashford)

I remember the sadness in my family’s eyes when we went to Nanna’s funeral, but I also remember the smell of her corn porridge and all of the lessons she taught me, big and small.

Next time you see me playing foot- ball, check out what I do before I get on the pitch: I always do the sign of the cross, and then I point up to my nanna.

She never got to watch me play, but I know she’s a part of me and I always try to say something to her before a game.

I remember the lessons she taught me, tap my boots four times before I step on the pitch – which is my little routine I do to keep focused – and then I know I’m ready to go out there and give it my best.

That’s my way of trying to share what big moments I can with her, even though she is gone.






Marcus has made it – and wants others to know they can to

You’re never alone in this life and I know my nanna is proud of me and the things I am doing, always. I wouldn’t be here without her, and I try to carry all of her lessons with me, no matter what I do.

You will achieve amazing things. Trust me, I even started to learn how to make corn porridge the other week.

  • Extracted from You Are a Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be by Marcus Rashford and Carl Anka, published by Macmillan Children’s Books on May 27 at £9.99.
  • See Monday’s Daily Mirror newspaper for a voucher which will entitle you to pre-order the book for just £4.49 from WhSmith.