The day after that final, some people said some pretty hurtful things about myself, my manager, and some of my teammates who also missed penalties. It was tough. As a professional athlete, people often talk about what you do in the Big Moments, whether you won or lost the game and what you did to help, or not help, your team. Back in 2019, I played in a game for Manchester United against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League, where I was asked to take a penalty in the final minutes. It was this huge moment, and I had to score for Manchester United to get through to the next round. That time, I managed to score, and it felt great. But in the days after missing a penalty for England and losing the UEFA Euro 2020 final, I didn't feel great.There is a painting of my face in a town in Manchester where I grew up, and someone was so angry that I didn't score my penalty that they vandalized it. That really hurt me. Sometimes you can kick the ball right and you're a hero. Other times you miss and people call you a zero.
BUT THEN SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED.
In the days following the final, people from all over the UK traveled to the painting and left messages of support for me and my teammates.
Now, you might be wondering why I've started a book called 'You Are a Champion' with a story about 'losing' a game for a championship. But I'm telling you this story to show you that there's more than one way to win.
IN SPORTS. IN LIFE. IN EVERYTHING.
England had lost a final, but in the days following, I won something else: the knowledge that people from all over the country were rooting for the England team, including myself. That in the face of abuse, people were standing alongside one another to block out the negative noise. They were protecting me.
I know it's not the same, and I know a part of me will always think about that penalty and the final we never won. But on that day—July 11, 2021—and in the days after, I learned that there can be more than one way of winning. You might not always get a trophy or the medal you wanted, but if you go out there with your head held high and try your best, you've already won.
MY NAME IS MARCUS RASHFORD, AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE A CHAMPION.
This book is my attempt to pass on some of the lessons I've picked up along my life's journey. Things that have helped me through tough times and things that have helped me find and celebrate the good. I want you to know that there are people out there who believe in you, and who understand you are at the start of your life's journey—a journey that can be the most incredible thing. My journey has taken me to some really interesting places, and 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 smoothest, and sometimes you might get stuck and need help, but you are capable of amazing things.
Within you right now is the most incredible potential to go out there and chase your dreams, to be a champion in almost anything you put your mind to, because there are so many different ways you can be one!
You can be a champion in a competition and come out number one, but you can also still be a champion in the things you enjoy even if you don't win prizes for them. I want to help you develop skills for the challenges ahead so you can be a champion at life.
You can be a champion for another person, and try your best to support them in what they do. I hope you'll learn that there are people around you who are championing you right now, and that you can even be a champion for the people who are close to you, too.
You can be a champion for a cause. Back in England, I've been involved in a few anti-food-poverty campaigns, trying to get food to people who need it most, because that's a cause very close to my heart. You might decide you want to be a champion for something you believe in, and I'd like to show you how to do that.
And no matter what happens in your life, the most amazing way that you can be a champion is by being your OWN champion. Trust me, when you believe in yourself, incredible things can happen.
I want you to think of this book as a key that unlocks new doors in your mind, and I hope that in reading this you find something useful for all the years ahead. I hope that by the time you get to the last page you'll have found some new ways of thinking that will help you. Everyone is different, everyone has their own journey, but everyone, in their own special way, is a champion.
SO LET'S FIND OUT ALL THE WAYS THAT YOU ARE A CHAMPION.
Turn that page and let's get to work.