England forward Marcus Rashford apologised for his penalty shootout miss but said he “will never apologise for who I am” after he was one of three players subjected to vile racist abuse following England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.
Rashford, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed their spot-kicks and were targeted on social media after the game.
“I felt as if I’d let everyone down,” Rashford, 23, wrote in a statement.
The Manchester United forward added: “I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from.
“I’ve felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands.”
A mural in Rashford’s hometown of Withington was defaced after his penalty miss, before it was covered in messages of support.
Earlier on Monday, England boss Gareth Southgate said the racist abuse issued after the defeat was “unforgivable”, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association have also condemned it.
The Metropolitan Police is investigating the abuse and said “it will not be tolerated”, while the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) has also launched an investigation.
Read Rashford’s statement in full:
“I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I am feeling at this exact time.
“I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence. I’ve always backed myself for a penalty, but something didn’t feel quite right.
“During the long run-up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted. I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I’d let everyone down. A penalty was all I’d been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep, so why not that one?
“It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of gone differently.
“Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout out my team-mates. This summer has been one of the best camps I’ve experienced and you’ve all played a role in that.
“A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine.
“I’ve grown into a sport where I expected to read things written about myself.
“Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch.
“I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from. I’ve felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands.
“I dreamt of days like this. The messages I’ve received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears. The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up.
“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that. For all the kind messages thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”