Marcus Rashford has been honoured with a Panel Special Award during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony on Sunday night.
The forward attended the awards after being part of the Manchester United side that beat Leeds 6-2 at Old Trafford on Sunday evening.
He wins the award after leading a successful campaign to extend the provision of free school meals for vulnerable children during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rashford supposedly missed out on the main award because it is given purely for ‘sporting achievement’ — but those in charge of proceedings agreed Rashford’s work off the pitch should be commended.
Speaking during the ceremony from Media City in Salford, Rashford said (quotes via Daily Mail): ‘Growing up as a kid I felt if it was a 100 metre race I started 50 metres behind everybody else.
‘It was more difficult for me to do the basic things like getting to training, eat the right things, it was a nightmare of a situation to be in, but in the end I got to where I needed to get to.
‘Once I got there I just had this thing that eats at me saying “make sure you make a difference for the next generation.”
Congratulations Marcus Rashford! 👏
The Manchester United and England footballer is the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Expert Panel Award winner! 🏆
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 20, 2020
‘I think as a country we should protect them as m much as we can and give them the best chance at life and become whatever it is they want to become.’
The campaign led by Rashford started in June and he was awarded an MBE in October for services to vulnerable children.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Rashford last month after being persuaded to introduce new measures to help those children in need.
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) December 20, 2020
Asked how the campaign had gathered momentum, he added: ‘It was something I tried a few years ago in Manchester but I wasn’t satisfied with the reach it was having.
‘A few years later I was speaking to my brothers and my mum and said “I’m going to have another go at it”. And then we did, and what happened since then we didn’t expect.’
The BBC are showing a special access-all-areas documentary about Rashford’s campaign tonight.