He’s got 10million Instagram followers and 4.4million on Twitter – but Marcus Rashford fears social media can be bad for kids.
The Manchester United and England striker is concerned youngsters spend too much time glued to their smartphone or tablet.
He worries they are exposed to trolls and malicious users who have turned social media into a weapon.
Marcus, a hero to millions due to his campaigning efforts to give kids a better life, warns: “There’s so many fake people on there, it’s just ridiculous. I’m 23 and I’ve never used social media in that way, ever.
“The only time I’ve been on social media is to promote positive things about to happen and positive changes.
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“Other than that, I don’t go on it because it’s just a big cloud of negativity. There’s no point.
“It’s no fault of the site itself, the site is a brilliant idea, but it’s just the way that people have used it.
“I don’t really agree with young kids being on social media 24/7.
“In a perfect world, it would be used in the right way. People could be on it and enjoy it.
“But until that happens then I’m not a proper fan of social media.”
Marcus spoke out a month before the Euros – aiming to add to his tally of 11 goals in 40 games for England.
June also marks the anniversary of one of his greatest days – the start of a battle with Boris Johnson ’s government over free meals for pupils during the school holidays.
He won, of course. And the PM even rang Marcus to admit defeat.
A lot has happened in the intervening 12 months and Marcus has helped raise £20million for kids’ charities, making him the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List.
He also launched a book club for youngsters and received the MBE in recognition of his work.
That’s not to mention the small matter of helping Man United to the Europa League final – it’s on Wednesday – and to runners-up place in the Premier League.
Marcus benefited from free school meals as he grew up in Manchester and has reconnected with youngsters in a heartwarming trip back to Button Lane Primary, discussing his Child Food Poverty campaign.
And, in a chat with Dr Alex George for ITV’s Lorraine, he reveals why school was so crucial to him.
He says: “School helped more than I ever could have imagined. I used to get my stability from school and when training with United.
“They were my only two stable things. School was great.
“I try and come back as often as I can. Mainly for the kids, because they see someone who was in their shoes and compare it to where I am now.
“And they start to believe that it’s possible, and sometimes a little bit of belief is all they need.”
Marcus has also turned his attention to children’s books. His next title, You Are A Champion: How to Be the Best You Can Be is available from Thursday.
And The Marcus Rashford Bookclub – providing free books to over-sevens with Macmillan Children’s Books – launches in July.
Marcus goes on: “If I could change one thing about my upbringing, it would be to read more books. Books speed up that transition of being mentally strong and having that toughness to show the world who you are.
“The knowledge I picked up was life-changing.
“When I first started training with the first team, mentally I wasn’t ready. I’d only been reading books for about six months, so I just carried on reading and six months later I played and I was ready.
“I was mentally prepared for the game. I want to make sure more books are available to kids who are not from privileged backgrounds.”
Food poverty remains a key focus too.
He says: “We’re still so far away from what I deemed as the end goal. It’s about keeping on going until we get to… a good starting block for children and their families.
“I’m proud of what we’ve managed to achieve. I’m on the way to building a few buildings in my area.Lifestyle centres – you’re gonna learn how to cook, learn sports, you can do music.
“There needs to be food available there. Hot meals should be prepared for them.”
Marcus is extremely close with his mum, Melanie, a former cashier.
She helped get him into Man United.
And he praises her while speaking to Dr Alex – the former Love Island contestant now a government ambassador for youth mental health.
The upcoming exclusive TV interview continues the HEADucation campaign highlighting mental health, which Marcus supports.
He adds: “I want to give kids the opportunity to find success coming out of similar backgrounds to where I come from. It’s important to have people to look up to.
“I always wanted to be like Wayne Rooney. Every day I was trying to copy Wayne. Then I got to 13, 14 and I was like, ‘Is there much point in Rooney No2?’
“So I think bringing your own personality, your own characteristics is a massive thing, but to have a role model to guide you is just as important.”
- Watch Marcus on Lorraine on ITV at 9am on Monday and on ITV Hub
£7m portfolio as he strikes on the property market
– EXCLUSIVE, by Chris White
Savvy star Marcus now owns seven homes, a property portfolio thought to be worth around £7million.
Paperwork filed for the striker’s firm MUCS Properties reveal five investment properties were purchased over a three-month spell during the pandemic.
They include three rental properties on a new luxury housing development in trendy Wilmslow, Cheshire.
According to property website Zoopla, the properties have an estimated top worth of £816,000, £814,000 and £696,000 and were bought in September and October last year for an undisclosed amount.
Marcus – reported to be single again having split from PR executive Lucia Loi, 22 – also bought a new-build house in Macclesfield last August, for an unknown amount, and a two-bed apartment nearby for £310,000 in October.
A source said: “The housing market is red hot right now. It is the perfect time for Marcus to get involved in property.”
The £200,000-a-week striker’s own home, in Cheshire, is a modern six-bedroom detached worth £1.8million.
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And he has bought a £2million disused golf course, also in Cheshire, with plans to build his main home there.
Meanwhile, a second company looks after his activities away from football, such as his media work and image rights.
It has been raking in millions under the guidance of hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.
Latest accounts for MUCS Enterprises reveal the firm made a £6,232,333 profit and had £7,175,960 in assets, which includes £3,263,612 “cash in the bank”.