Marcus Rashford put his emotions on full display after Manchester United’s agonising defeat in the Europa League final against Villarreal, before later revealing he had suffered online racial abuse.
The striker pulled no punches in his pre-match interview, in which he stressed that ‘close was not good enough’ as United failed to win their first trophy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Rashford then took to social media just over an hour after the final whistle and said: ‘At least 70 racial slurs on my social accounts counted so far. For those working to make me feel any worse than I already do, good luck trying.’
He then went on to reveal that one of the users who had sent him ‘a mountain of monkey emojis’ happened to be a school teacher.
Rashford wrote: ‘I’m more outraged that one of the abusers that left a mountain of monkey emojis in my DM is a maths teacher with an open profile. He teaches children!! And knows that he can freely racially abuse without consequence…’
Marcus Rashford gave an emotional interview after Man United’s Europa League final loss
United had delivered a flat performance in Gdansk and could only draw 1-1 – taking the game to extra-time and penalties with Edinson Cavani cancelling out Gerard Moreno’s opener – as their LaLiga counterparts came out on top in a long-fought shootout that ended 11-10.
But on the night, Solskjaer’s men weren’t good enough and didn’t deliver moments of quality to win the showpiece, and Rashford issued a rallying cry to his United team-mates to banish their inability to win trophies.
‘Disappointing… the feeling inside is difficult to explain,’ Rashford told BT Sport.
‘We came here to win. We worked so hard all season – this was the opportunity to win a trophy, it didn’t happen. But we have to get rid of the disappointment, after that we will look back at the game, what we did wrong where we can improve.’
He urged his team-mates to develop a winning mentality, insisting ‘close is not good enough’
The forward has enjoyed a superb season in front of goal with 22 strikes – but it wasn’t the best of nights for him, as he was unable to spark the team into life in front of goal.
He promised that the team would keep going in their pursuit of silverware, insisting that the club have all the tools for success – but cannot be satisfied with near misses.
‘All I can say is we won’t give up,’ he added. ‘The manager won’t allow us to give up. We come next season with a bigger desire. People say a lot about us going downhill, blah blah blah.
He issued a rallying cry to United and believes they have the tools they need to be successful
‘For me, the talent, ability – we have everything to compete at the highest level, we just have to show it… why we belong in finals like this, winning finals like this. In the league we finished 2nd, but it doesn’t count for nothing. Man City win the league and we finish second, it means nothing.
‘For us, I don’t wanna hear “they were so close”, it doesn’t mean anything. There’s one winner, one loser. Next time, we have to make sure we don’t lose.’
The 23-year-old struck a hopeful tone and is confident United will end their four-year trophy drought, and believes the ‘sacrifice’ of the team is what makes him believe that success is just around the corner.
‘I’m 100 per cent sure we will [win trophies],’ he added. ‘To win trophies you have to show sacrifice. I could walk you into that dressing room and I could show you five, six players – including myself – who had injuries from September.
Rashford had a poor evening in front of goal as United delivered a flat display in Gdansk
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer agreed United are ‘close’ to trophies but challenged them to get better
‘We all work together as a unit and we fight to be successful. This year it didn’t happen. We have to go away and clear our heads and start fresh. When Ole came in there was a process. The players still believe in that process and this isn’t the end of the process. We have ups and downs.
‘I promise you we don’t give up, there’s no chance we give up. We come back with more hunger and do our best on the pitch. What I said, the sacrifice, it means a lot. The top clubs have it, that’s why they win the trophies. We’re close but close isn’t good enough.’
His claim that United were ‘close’ to winning silverware was echoed by his boss Solskjaer, who admitted his side were ‘one kick’ from lifting a trophy, but challenged them to ‘get better’.
‘We’re getting closer and closer,’ he said. ‘We were one kick away from a trophy and a good night, we have to have the desire to come back and improve and that will be margins. The only way to get it your side is work harder and better.