A nine-year-old boy has written a touching letter of support to England striker Marcus Rashford after he missed a penalty in the final defeat of Euro 2020.
England and Italy played out a 1-1 draw on a night of high drama at Wembley but it was the Azzurri who lifted the trophy after Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed their penalties.
After the crushing disappointment, many have reflected on the pride the England team instilled in the nation over the last few weeks and one young fan offered heartfelt words of support for Rashford.
Marcus Rashford missed a penalty for England in the heartbreaking Euro 2020 final defeat
Piers Morgan shared a letter written to Rashford by nine-year-old, Dexter Rosier
Rashford was devastated after his spot kick struck the post in the shootout at Wembley
Piers Morgan tweeted: ‘Hey Marcus – I think this young man speaks for the vast majority of people in this country,’ above a picture of the letter shared by the youngster’s mother online.
The boy, Dexter Rosier, wrote: ‘Dear Marcus Rashford, I hope you won’t be sad for too long because you are such a good person.
‘Last year you inspired me to help people less fortunate. Then last night, you inspired me again to always be brave.
‘I’m proud of you, you will always be a hero. From Dexter Rosier. Aged nine.’
Rashford hardly featured for England during the tournament but came off the substitutes bench on more than one occasion, including Sunday night.
Gareth Southgate brought the Manchester United man on late in extra time to take a penalty but the forward, who had his eyes fixed on Gianluigi Donnarumma, struck the post before putting his head in his hands in despair.
It was a brutal end to the game after a wonderful tournament for England overall
It was a cruel end to the tournament and in the hours that followed, the players who missed the penalties for England suffered abhorrent racist abuse online.
There were a number of sickening messages to Saka, Rashford and Sancho on their Instagram pages.
The Arsenal star, Saka, was targeted with racist language and emojis on the social media website, on his most recent post from the day before the final. One user told him ‘get out of my country’, while another said: ‘Go back to Nigeria’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: ‘This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,’ said the prime minister.
‘Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.’
The FA also condemned the ‘appalling’ abuse and would do everything possible to support players affected by racism.
‘We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team,’ said the FA in a statement.
‘We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.
Instagram users posted racist language and emojis on Bukayo Saka’s Instagram account and he, along with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho received abhorrent abuse
‘We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.
‘Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.’
In a statement, Instagram said: ‘No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.
‘We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules.
Rashford and the players subjected to abuse will need plenty of support in the weeks ahead
‘In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs.
‘No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.’
European football’s governing body UEFA condemned the ‘disgusting racist abuse’, adding: ‘We stand by the players and the FA’s call for the strongest possible punishments.’