Manchester United Forward Marcus Rashford, unexpectedly appeared on a Zoom call with Ben Dickinson, who has been raising money for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice by running a mile a day for 26 days in March.

With the help of his dad Andrew, Ben thought he was doing an interview with Sky Sports News as they explained how he had raised £3000 having been inspired byv kindness during the coronavirus lockdown, before the England striker himself emerged on the call.

When asked what he would say to Marcus Rashford if he was watching the interview, Ben immediately made a phone symbol with his hand and asked “call me Marcus, will you run a mile with me?”

Rashford was then added to the call, and told Ben: “I’m very proud of you. I think one of the biggest reasons I started to do this was to encourage children to take responsibility and do things off their own back.

“You should be very proud of yourself and I’m sure your family are. It brings me great joy to see you do the things you’re doing. The money is great but the thought and principle behind it shows we are making progress.”

A startled Ben replied: “You’ve inspired me to do this. Thank you. I had to get my fitness levels up after lockdown but I thought I could give back while doing it. Rashford fed kids during lockdown so I thought I’d help sick kids.”

And dad Andrew added: “Marcus, you should be very proud of yourself too. You see the effect it has on kids like Ben. You should be very proud of that.”

Ben has also received support from Irish Premiership side Larne, with midfielder John Herron joining him and the entire squad to run with him on his final day.

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“It’s one of those special moments that Ben will never forget,” Andrew said. “He is saying that it is the best day of his life. We are still shocked. Hopefully it will give a huge boost to the hospice.”

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