A YORK councillor highlighted footballer Marcus Rashford’s contribution to the city through his campaign to help feed vulnerable children during school holidays, and made an off the cuff remark about his penalty last night.

Cllr Nigel Ayre praised Rashford for his campaign to Government, which was backed by City of York Council last year when it stumped up £50,500 of emergency funding to step in and provide free school meals during the October 2020 half term.

Speaking at a meeting on Monday about the support the council has provided for vulnerable people during the pandemic, Cllr Ayre said: “On the free school meals, I have to make a comment. I think if perhaps the Government had stepped in earlier and done something around that, then perhaps Marcus Rashford would have had more time to practice penalties and we might have had a different thing last night.

“So perhaps reflecting on that one.”

Rashford was the first England player to miss his penalty in the Euro 2021 final last night (July 11). He sent Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way, but the Manchester United forward’s effort struck the post.

Conservative MP Natalie Elphike was criticised after England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final for sending a message that said that Rashford “should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics”.

Recent data shows the number of York children eligible for free school meals has now hit a record high.

One in eight pupils in the city are receiving free school meals.

Since the start of lockdown on March 23 2020, 767 York children have become eligible.

The majority are primary school pupils, but 206 are at secondary school, 13 at special schools, seven in pupil referral units and two of the newly eligible children are at nursery.