England forward Marcus Rashford has said he is "sorry" for missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout defeat to Italy, but added he will "never apologise for who I am and where I came from" after suffering racist abuse.
Rashford, 23, was one of three England players - along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka - to miss spot kicks at Wembley on Sunday after the match had ended 1-1 following extra time. All three players have suffered racist abuse online, while a mural in Rashford's home town of Withington was defaced before it was covered in messages of support.
The racist abuse prompted a police investigation and wide condemnation from England's captain, manager, royalty, religious leaders, politicians, and millions of supporters.
On Monday night, Manchester United forward Rashford released a statement on his Instagram account, writing: "I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I’m feeling at this exact time. I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence.
"I’ve always backed myself for a penalty but something didn’t feel quite right. During the long run up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted. I felt as though I had let my teammates down. I felt as if I’d let everyone down.
"A penalty was all I’d been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep so why not that one? It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of gone differently. Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shoutout my teammates.
"This summer has been one of the best camps I’ve experienced and you’ve all played a role in that. A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine."
Rashford has become an influential campaigner against food poverty and homelessness in the UK, leading campaigns to provide millions of free meals and raising millions of pounds. He also successfully rallied the UK government to provide free school meals during last summer, and more recently launched a book club to encourage more children to read.
"I’ve grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch," he said. "I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from.
"I’ve felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands. I dreamt of days like this. The messages I’ve received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears.
"The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up. I’m Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that.For all the kind messages, thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger."