There’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary about Button Lane in Wythenshawe in the south of Manchester.
The houses all look pretty much the same, and like most council estates in the north of England, there are a few takeaway food shops dotted around, a barber, liquor store and a community centre that hosts among other things, martial arts classes.
All fairly run of the mill.
In front of some of the houses are patches of grass where, no doubt, you’ll find children playing football whatever the weather.
But in their minds they are not playing on a small piece of grass outside their homes, instead, their playing at Old Trafford, in front of thousands of fans singing their names when they score the winner.
For one former resident, that dream came true. Button Lane is where Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford grew up. He would have played on those patches of grass probably every spare moment he got, daydreaming about one day being a professional footballer.
His dream came true, but today Marcus Rashford is so much more than just an extremely talented England international footballer.
Despite being just a few days shy of 23 years old, Rashford is already an absolute hero, and that’s got nothing to do with his amazing footballing talents.
Last year, Marcus set up the In the Box charity to help give homeless people essential items over the Christmas period. Along with his mother, he visited numerous homeless shelters handing out items to those in need and also arranged for packages to be sent to a children’s home in St Kitts, the Caribbean country where his grandmother was from.
When the United Kingdom was put into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marcus again stepped up. This time helping to provide food for children who were missing out on free meals because the schools were closed.
He helped feed a total of 4 million children and wrote an open letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for him to end child poverty. Boris caved in and changed the government policy to allow free meals during the holidays.
You would have thought Boris and his cronies would have learned their lesson, but no. As the schools closed again for a break, again Boris refused to help out. A vote in the Houses of Parliament to extend free school meals was rejected.
Once again Marcus Rashford stepped forward. And despite being a multimillionaire he is far more in touch with the people than the Prime Minister himself.
Marcus described those Conservative Members of Parliament who voted against the proposal as lacking humanity. He is correct, although personally, I can think of better ways to describe them that I wouldn’t be allowed to write in the pages of this newspaper.
Not only have his efforts received the backing of the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, but it seems all and sundry are coming out in support of the footballer.
Cafes, bars, restaurants and even fast-food chains are offering free meals to children who need them.
Other footballers are following suit and many Premier League clubs have donated cash to the cause.
Last week, with football fans still not allowed into the grounds to see matches, many games were broadcast online but at a price, the equivalent of about VNĐ500,000.
Instead of paying to watch their team, supporters the length and breadth of the country gave the money to Rashford’s charity instead.
To those children on Button Lane who will probably be having a kickabout today on the patches of grass outside their homes, they no longer dream of growing up to be any professional footballer, they all want to be Marcus Rashford.
And there really is no better aspiration to have. VNS