Smiling and laughing together in happier times, this is Marcus Rashford with his 35-year-old late friend who the England hero dedicated his World Cup goals to last night, MailOnline can reveal today.
Fellow Mancunian Garfield Hayward died two days before the game with Wales in Qatar, after a long battle with cancer.
After scoring his first goal, Rashford dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky in what was a poignant celebration for the man-of-the-match’s ‘big supporter’, who his friends call ‘Garf’.
During his post-match interview, England’s matchwinner said: ‘Unfortunately I lost one of my friends a couple of days ago. He’s had quite a long battle with cancer, so I’m pleased I managed to score for him. He’s always been a big supporter of mine. He was just a great person and I’m pleased he came into my life, really.’
Tributes have emerged on social media including a post from ‘Garf’ where he shares a joke with Rashford and mixed martial arts star Khabib Nurmagomedov, with the caption: ‘Great time with great people’.
There has been an outpouring of grief for Mr Hayward, who is believed to be from Manchester.
There was a tribute at a city nightclub last night, according to one Instagram post, as well as flowers left on a graffitied bridge.
His nephew Steven said on social media: ‘My heart is hurting so much knowing I won’t see you again in this life. Uncle Garf one of the realist people I’ve ever know. You was a big part of my life growing up. Just wish we could of made alot more memories together, it won’t be the same without you being here. You was the man with the most beautiful soul.
‘You didn’t have a bad bone in your body you would give anything and everything you could with even a single bit of hesitation. I love you man and I’m so glad I got to tell you that. You will forever be in my thoughts and my heart till the day I die.
Another friend, Calder Taylor, shared a video of floral tributes and said: ‘Love you Garf’.
Marcus Rashford has revealed the emotional reasoning behind the celebration for his first goal in England’s 3-0 victory over Wales.
It was a memorable night for the Manchester United forward who scored twice to ensure England took top spot in Group B and advance to the last-16.
Rashford was brought into the starting eleven for the first time in Qatar and has given Gareth Southgate a selection headache going into their last-16 clash with Senegal on Sunday.
‘It’s been a challenge for him,’ said the England manager, who was unaware that Rashford’s friend had died in the build-up to the game.
‘I went and saw him in the summer, had a long chat with him and he had some clear ideas on things that he felt he needed to think about and to do.
‘He could have had a hat-trick, really, with the chance in the first half and then the one at the near post towards the end.
‘But great for him and because it’s great for him it’s great for us.’
After a quiet opening half, England stepped up a gear in the second with Rashford scoring a stunning free-kick to give the Three Lions the lead.
Man City star Phil Foden doubled the lead before Rashford added a third for the Three Lions – having also scored as a substitute in the 6-2 victory over Iran.
Rashford took to Twitter after the game to post his second goal celebration, as he jumped for joy, surrounded by his England teammates, alongside the captain: ‘Last 16 here we come.’
The 25-year-old after the game told the BBC: ‘It’s obviously a great feeling. We were disappointed as a team after the last game, we could have played a lot better.
‘The only way to bounce back is to play better in your next game.
‘Moments like this, this is what I play football for. I am really happy today to be going into the next round of the tournament, because I have massive ambition for this team and I think we can go a lot further.’
Speaking of his free-kick goal which opened the scoring and eventually sparked England’s victory, Rashford said: ‘I fancied one in the first half, but the one in the second was in a better position.
‘Then it’s being calm and executing what you do in training.’
After the game the Three Lions stars – who have a day off in Qatar today – mingled with family and friend sin the stands.
Beaming model Sasha Attwood reunited with boyfriend Jack Grealish while captain Harry Kane – who is yet to score at this tournament – and his wife Katie were spotted sharing a sweet catch up pitch side, and Luke Shaw had a kiss planted on him by his long-term partner Anouska Santos.
Mason Mount was also delighted to get up to the stands after the match to greet his family, while goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and his partner Megan Davison got together for a catch up.
After the game Marcus celebrated his two goals by having a kiss with his fiancée Lucia Loi while Kalvin Phillips had a warm embrace with girlfriend Ashleigh Behan among the crowds.
Another WAG present at the match was Aaron Ramsdale’s fiancée Georgina Irwin who also gave her partner a sweet smooch following the clash.