media captionTru Powell took his sons to see the positive messages on the mural

People are continuing to leave messages of support and solidarity at the vandalised mural of Marcus Rashford.

The artwork in Withington, Manchester, was defaced following England's defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Rashford said he was "on the verge of tears" when he saw the mural had been covered in supportive messages.

The street artist Akse, who created the portrait, has now repaired the damage but it has yet to be decided what will happen to the messages of support.

The mural was defaced with several swear words shortly after Rashford missed a penalty, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, in the 3-2 shootout loss.

All three players have since been targeted with racist abuse on social media.

Rashford said he was sorry for missing his penalty, adding that he "wished it had gone differently" but then paid tribute to those who added messages on the mural.

"The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up," the Manchester United forward tweeted.

"I'm Marcus Rashford, 23 years old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester."

media captionStreet artist Akse, who created the Rashford mural, has now repaired the damage

Greater Manchester Police said an investigation had begun after it received a report of racially aggravated damage at the site at 02:50 BST on Monday.

Withington Walls co-founder Ed Wellard, who commissioned the artwork, said those responsible for the vandalism should be educated rather than punished.

He said he hoped "something positive might come of it" as people were now "talking about the issue of racism in this country".

"There's a lot of solidarity to these players, they've been fine role models on and off the pitch," he said.

A crowdfunding page for the mural has now raised more than £30,000, which Mr Wellard said would be used to fund further artwork.

  • I won't apologise for who I am – Rashford
  • The wall of support and solidarity for Rashford
  • Black and Asian fans 'so proud' of England team

The mural, based on a photograph by Daniel Cheetham, is painted on the side of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street.

Peter Doherty, 46, who has owned the cafe for 12 years, said of the abusive graffiti: "It's not right. It's not the first time this has happened either.

"It takes such guts to get up and take a penalty. We need to take a look at ourselves as England fans.

"You'd think after the year we've had we'd be hugging each other, not hating each other."

media captionRashford mural tributes: 'Something beautiful out of something negative'

Brothers Ezra and Dylan are among those who added a message of support after being "disgusted" by the vandalism.

"He stood up for kids and he stood up for what he believes in and he has been a role model for my two boys and for a lot of people around the country," said their father Tom.

"It's a brave thing to do to step up and take a penalty under all that pressure and it's very easy to criticise someone from the sidelines.

"We felt awful about what happened. And if you can come and show your support then that's a little thing that you can do to make a difference."

image captionBrothers Ezra and Dylan visited the mural with their father Tom, who said Rashford was "a role model for my two boys"image captionNoor (left) and Tarza, who go to Rashford's old primary school, wanted to show their support

Nine-year-olds Noor and Tarza are pupils at Old Moat Primary School – the same school Rashford attended – and said they came to show their support for him.

"We were really sad about [the graffiti] – he was trying his best," Tarza said.

"He's so strong and I think he loves love hearts, but if he doesn't then that's okay," she added.

"He is so kind," Noor added.

image captionNathalie brought her four-year-old son Charlie to the mural

Nathalie, 45, from Manchester, brought her four-year-old son Charlie to the mural to "show their love".

"Racism won't win. No 23-year-old deserves this," she said.

Their handwritten note read: "We stand with you. Love will always win. We are so proud of you."

Nine-year-old Jacob, from St Helens in Merseyside, also travelled to the mural to add a note which read: "Thanks for everything. Keep up the good work. You are a hero and legend."

Earlier this month, Rashford sent him a surprise present to thank him for his charity work.

image captionJacob was inspired by the England forward's efforts to tackle child poverty

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