Juan Mata has paid a glowing tribute to teammate Marcus Rashford in his fight against food poverty.
The Manchester United star has again been in the headlines for all the right reasons this week as he scored the winning goal against PSG, before raising awareness of places offering free meals to children during the holidays after the government voted against continuing free school meals outside term time.
Alongside this, Rashford continues to work with foodbanks to get food to those most in need.
Mata, who co-founded the Common Goal charity that calls on footballers to pledge at least one per cent of their salary to charity, is delighted with the work his young teammate is doing.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the Spaniard revealed how proud everyone at United is of Rashford’s campaigning and said he hopes it inspires other players to do similar.
He said: “It’s important for every player to realise the platform that we have, the message that we can get across and the amount of people that we can help.
“I’m very proud of what Marcus has been doing. On the pitch, of course we know how good he is and he is still performing very well but off the pitch also, the work he’s been doing over the last months has been great.
“He has improved the quality of life for so many kids in this country, which I’m sure everyone is proud of.
“His family should be proud of him, me, as a team-mate, and the club are very proud of him.
“And I think it’s important also to get the message that of course we are football players and our main focus is our professional life, which is training and playing football and being ready to perform but that doesn’t take away from having time to do these kind of things, which doesn’t take any focus away from our professional life.
“I’ve seen some people saying, Marcus should stick to playing football and things like that, which I don’t really agree with because he can do both, as he’s showing.
“And I’m very proud of what he’s done and he’s getting the reward he deserves.”