Kylian Mbappe is reported to sent Marcus Rashford a private message of encouragement after his Euro 2020 penalty heartache.
The two young forwards both suffered agony at the tournament, with Mbappe missing the decisive spot-kick as World Cup winners France suffered a shock exit against Switzerland in the last 16.
It is claimed he offered ‘empathy’ to Rashford, touching on his penalty miss and urging him to stay positive in the aftermath.
Rashford, plus team-mates Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, endured racist abuse on social media in the aftermath of their misses.
However, many fans have since rallied around the pair, and Rashford admitted being left emotional by the heartwarming response he has received from most quarters as he posted a lengthy statement on social media.
“I don’t even know where to start, and I don’t know how to put into words how I’m feeling at this exact time,” he wrote.
“I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s 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 quite feel 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 thought I had let my teammates down. I felt as though I had 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 this feels.
“Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had gone differently.
“Whilst I continue to say sorry, I want to shout out my teammates.
“This summer has been one of the best camps I’ve ever 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.
“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.
“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.
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2021
“I dreamt of days like this. The messages I’ve received today have been positively overwhelming, and seeing their response in Withington had em on the verge of tears. The communities that always had me 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.”