It’s quite a heart-warming sight when people walk around the corner and see the Marcus Rashford mural for the first time, covered in thousands of notes and pictures left by supporters from across the country.
Many people are emotional, some shed tears, many smile, and others stand in awe at what really is a spectacle that has been the focal point of this “culture war” of the past few days.
There was a steady flow of people visiting the mural in Manchester on Tuesday – from children heading to school in the morning, to road workers and binmen stopping to read just some of the tributes and messages of support taped on the wall.
Many came with different views, but the outpour of unity, solace, and love for Marcus Rashford and his England teammates was clear to see.
Sky News spoke to a few of those who came from across the country just to see the mural and leave their own messages of support, with many reacting to the government’s stance on the players taking the knee and the anti-racism symbol being called “gesture politics”.
The comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that football banning orders will be changed to cover online racism in the wake of the latest wave of abuse, saying the change will mean “if you are guilty of racist abuse online of footballers then you will not be going to the match”.
‘Change needs to come from the top – not the bottom’
Amy Taylor, 19, Leeds
“Change needs to happen from the top, from the government. A lot of people are trying to tackle the issue of racism from the bottom, like doing this and leaving their messages of love and support.
“But bigger corporations and governments need to be fighting too and comments like the home secretary made are disgusting.”
“I want to remind Marcus Rashford today all the good things about him. He is strong, brave, talented and you can’t be perfect all the time.
“Just because he missed that penalty doesn’t take away his talent or the person he is inside, he’s still an amazing person.”
‘The government is acting like racism isn’t real’
Shantelle Awofadeju, 22, London
“For me it’s incredibly hypocritical the way the government have acted.
“When black people have been talking about how racist the country is, the government said that’s not true – they even commissioned a report which said structural racism doesn’t exist.
“Now you see all of this for yourself and everyone is acting surprised, we’ve been trying to tell you for ages.
“It’s a bit insulting when the home secretary calls this ‘gesture politics’.
“The people who can make change like the prime minster and Priti Patel are the ones acting like racism isn’t real and in turn they’re ridiculing us and not doing anything to help.”
‘I was really hurt, but we’ve still come together’
Titilope Oyetunji, 22, Essex
“It makes me really disappointed the comments that have been made, especially from people who have such big power and influence.
“I was really hurt, but I think it’s amazing that despite what they say we still stand together – whether it’s racism in football or the NHS.
“We still come together and we still fight for what we believe in.
“I came to show my support, I really loved watching the games and while I’m not a huge football fan, I think the last couple of weeks have really brought everyone together.
“The racism that not just Marcus got, but others too is really not acceptable. This goes beyond football though.”
‘Racism is a huge issue – that’s why players take the knee’
Harry Sangha, 51, Yorkshire
“The home secretary needs to educate herself a little bit more and really understand why players decided to take the knee.
“It’s about the prime example, England lost and only the black players received racist abuse. This is a huge societal issue and that’s why these players have taken the knee.
“Marcus Rashford is a really inspirational character, he’s part of this community and it’s so nice to see the support that the whole country has given him and the other England lads too.”