There are times when even the most bitter of rivals can set aside their mutual disdain to find common ground for a good cause. Jürgen Klopp provided a beautiful example of this when he heaped praise on Manchester United forward, Marcus Rashford, for his ongoing free school meals campaign.
“I am not sure I can find any better words than much smarter people have said, but what Marcus has started there is absolutely incredible, it is so nice,” said Klopp. “And with all the rivalry between the clubs, in these moments we are as footballers, and as human beings, always united.”
Rashford has earned high praise this year for his work to get the British government to continue offering free school meals for children from low income families throughout the summer holidays. With the financial hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the free school meals program is more crucial than ever for ensuring children in the United Kingdom don’t go hungry.
The Englishman’s campaign was a key factor in the government reversing their original decision and continuing the program this summer, and it earned him an MBE earlier this month.
In a true show of his character, Rashford didn’t stop the fight against child hunger with this victory. Instead, he has continued to advocate for an end to child food poverty, and he has continued to back efforts to ensure free school meals are offered throughout the coming holiday season.
The efforts were met with a setback this week when a motion to offer meals during holidays through Easter 2021 was voted down in the House of Commons, but that still didn’t stop Rashford.
Though the government may not sponsor the program over the coming holidays, a number of shops, restaurants, and bars throughout the country have committed to offering free meals to needy children, and Rashford has amplified their voices by promoting as many of the participating venues as possible via his own social media accounts.
With Rashford receiving so much attention and praise for his efforts, it should come as no surprise that other members of the football community are voicing their support and joining the chorus of voices speaking out for this worthy cause.
It should also come as no surprise that Klopp, a man who has open spoken of his left leaning political views, would be among those voices, even if the man being praised plies his trade for Liverpool’s greatest rival.
“It is a bit of a shame that he has to do it but it is wonderful as well. I hope his mother is really proud of him. I don’t know him but even I am proud of him. And he plays for United, which makes it really tricky!”
Klopp lamented the fact that a footballer is even in a position where this advocacy is necessary, but commended Rashford for doing so much to try and ensure future generations of children don’t have to grow up facing the same difficulties that the young United star faced as a child.
“It’s just nice to show in a time when obviously a lot of people who are really in charge of something and don’t show any sign of proper leadership, that a boy grown up in difficult circumstances and blessed with sensational talent, obviously, never forgot his roots and where he is coming from, that he has to do it.”
Liverpool’s manager also used this as an opportunity to point out that sometimes there are things in life that are more important than football, and it’s imperative for the footballing world to unite in times like these.
“That just shows that football can be really wondrous in moments and it shows that the subject is really, really serious, and that is why everybody puts the rivalry aside and thinks about the more important things in life, “said Klopp. “So I am really happy that Liverpool can show this solidarity in these moments. Now he is a role model for that and it is truly great and it won’t distract him from his football things.”
Despite playing for Liverpool’s hated rivals, I find it very difficult to feel anything other than respect and admiration for Marcus Rashford, and it’s wonderful to see Klopp encourage others to support Rashford’s noble cause. Rashford is truly one of the good ones, and I have no problem cheering for such a remarkable young man regardless of the shirt he wears on a football pitch.