Marcus Rashford has explained that his goal celebration against Wales in the World Cup was dedicated to a late friend who recently passed away from cancer.
The Manchester United striker found the net twice in the 3-0 win, firing home a free-kick shortly after half-time before blasting an effort through goalkeeper Danny Ward on 68 minutes.
After netting his first, TV cameras captured Rashford kneeling down and pointing to the sky after receiving the congratulations of his teammates. After the game, the 25-year-old outlined why he did so, saying: “Unfortunately I lost one of my friends a couple of days ago.
“He’s had quite a long battle with cancer, so I’m pleased I managed to score for him. He’s always been a big supporter of mine. He was just a great person and I’m pleased he came into my life, really.”
Speaking about his goals to the BBC, the United attacker said: “I fancied one in the first half but the one in the second half was in a better position. And from there, it’s just about being calm and trying to execute what you practice in training. They don’t go in often but I’m pleased that it went in today.”
Rashford was delighted with the team’s overall performance and outlined his confidence in a “capable” England squad. “We were a little bit disappointed as a team after the last game against the USA,” he admitted.
“I thought we could have played a lot better and the only way to bounce back from that is to have a good performance in your next game and I think we did that. First half, we defended brilliantly, we didn’t really give them any opportunities. And it was just about us killing the game off and taking the chances when they came.”
Rashford added: “I feel like the ambition in the squad is really good. We have a good mix of qualities. We have a really good squad and a squad that is definitely capable of challenging to win the tournament.
“I’m hoping that we can build on this type of performance, keep improving and keep scoring goals and showing our qualities.”
England boss Gareth Southgate was full of praise for Rashford, who was handed his second career World Cup start and his first of Qatar 2022.
He said: “It’s great for him. He’s trained really well, I have to say. He’s really been impressive since he came back in with us.
“He could have had a hat-trick really, the chance in the first half, the one at the near post in the second. The free-kick, that is what he’s capable of, it’s an incredible strike really.”