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Where did it all go wrong for Marcus Rashford?

  /  autty

Marcus Rashford was hailed as the first millionaire modern 'activist' footballer with a social conscience to match his mammoth talents on the pitch.

From the cover of Vogue to piling pressure on Downing Street over child hunger and raising £20million to fight poverty, the 26-year-old role model couldn't put a foot wrong off the pitch and never took his eye off the ball on it.

Rashford was appointed an MBE in the 2020 by the Queen for his free school meals campaign that changed the mind of Boris Johnson and he was tipped for a knighthood - all while smashing in 30 goals for Manchester United last season.

But his 'golden boy' status - and mega-money endorsements - are under threat, experts told MailOnline today.

The England striker's decision to go on a 12-hour booze bender in Belfast reveals that 'something is seriously wrong', it has been claimed, with some of his legions of fans baffled about what is troubling him.

Marcus' relationship with Lucia Loi has also been off and on for several years after they got engaged but then failed to walk down the aisle, reportedly splitting last year. He has been romantically linked to several other women as well as trying to rekindle his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, who is viewed as a steadying influence on the star striker and often pitchside at his greatest moments.

There are also growing questions about his inner circle of advisors, which appears to be his two siblings Dane and Dwaine and best friend Jamie. Marcus' brothers act as his agents but recently failed the FA's new exam.

And there are also claims that his drunken antics in Northern Ireland and failure to attend training could be a public show of defiance to his Man United manager Erik Ten Hag, whose job is said to be under threat.

He is at the centre of a scandal after apparently calling in sick for training on Friday after he was seen in Northern Ireland being 'determined to get drunk', downing shots of Limoncello and tequila and later passing out fully clothed at 3am in front of a Belfast barmaid partying with him.

Mr Rashford could be fined up to £650,000 by Manchester United after he didn't feature in the 4-2 FA Cup win at Newport County on Sunday following his drunken antics.

PR guru Mark Borkowski, who has managed crises for several high profiles footballers, told MailOnline that 'something is seriously wrong' behind the scenes.

He said: 'We saw this back in the day with the Rooneys and the Beckhams. Marcus was a golden boy but the constant pressure perhaps of not performing on the pitch and mental health issues takes its toll.

'These players were expected to be role models, often when they're not. They are young people who have got huge fame and glory when they have been at top of their game but it can prove too much.

'Marcus has a team around him but this stems from something that is not right in the club and with his game. It's escapism and about hedonism, which then becomes a story. One hopes someone gets hold of this guy because he is an amazing role model, but perhaps not at the moment'.

Former teammate Gary Neville today warned Marcus Rashford to 'calm down' after a number of heavy nights in recent months, and said: 'He's going through a dip in form at the moment but it can become your personality if you're not careful'.

Brand and culture expert Nick Ede told MailOnline: 'His reputation is getting tarnished due to his partying and subsequent no show at training.

'He is a very committed person and anyone in the public eye with that wealth and also single and eligible is allowed to slip up now and again but because all eyes are on him as he is such a big star. His naughty night out has a knock on effect which can have majors consequences for his team, his team mates, brands who endorse him and his reputation'.

The star, who has drawn the ire of angry team-mates following his behaviour, was allegedly so drunk that he passed out full clothed into bed in front of a waitress he invited on a night out with his entourage in the Northern Irish capital.

Manchester United later issued a statement saying the England striker, who has already been criticised for partying this season, had 'taken responsibility' for his behaviour, while Ten Hag described it as an 'internal matter'.

However, it is now being claimed that Rashford, who is one of the highest paid players at the club, could have been fined two weeks wages by his manager at a cost of more than half a million pounds.

The striker, who has scored just four goals in all competitions this season, has been fined £650,000 - the equivalent of two weeks wages - by the club, The Sun reports.

United sources would not confirm if Rashford has been punished by Ten Hag, but it is reported the manager has the power to fine two weeks wages.

Rashford, who reportedly signed a £325,000-a-week contract last year, arrived the club's Trafford Training Centre on Monday morning with his agent brother Dwaine Maynard, where he had talks with Ten Hag and football director John Murtough.

It is not the first time Rashford has been caught in the limelight for his partying - he was also criticised by Ten Hag in October after he was seen partying on his 26th birthday hours after losing to Manchester City in the derby.

The footballer, who has been lauded in recent years for his charity work and even received an MBE for his efforts to battle food poverty, is alleged to have downed shots of tequila during a boozy trip to the Northern Irish capital.

A waitress who claims she was invited out by the England star said at the end of the night he was so drunk that he dropped wads of cash in front of her in his five-star hotel room, moments before she was forced to put him to bed after he passed out.

Speaking to The Sun, Sarah Adair claimed Rashford invited her on the 'weird' night out in which she said he was 'clearly on a mission to get drunk'.

The footballer, who was pictured having dinner with his childhood sweetheart fiance Lucia Loi in November months after they split, was also allegedly seen arguing with a French woman at a nightclub.

Rashford had arrived in the Northern Irish capital on Wednesday on a private jet from Manchester, before checking into the five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel and heading out to the Dirty Onion pub and Lavery's bar, it's claimed.

The next day, after visiting Larne FC - who his friend Ro-Shaun Williams had just signed for - the 26-year-old went to the Italian restaurant where mother-of-one Adair works.

The mother-of-one told the Sun she didn't initially recognise the footballer, who reportedly signed a new £375,000-a-week contract with Manchester United last year, and only found out when her manager told her who he was.

The 30-year-old said Rashford was joined by two men and two women, one of whom was 'French and very beautiful', with the group ordering food and drinks.

She claimed that the footballer ordered sea bass but didn't touch his food, instead focusing on shots of tequila and cocktails, before inviting her to join the group on their night out.

After she agreed to join him, Rashford asked Adair whether she knew any nightclubs that would remain open beyond 3am if he paid them enough money.

'That made it clear to me that he had already made his mind up that he wasn't going to training on Friday. He had no plans to go home that night,' she said.

Adair said she finished her shift at 5pm and returned to the city centre two hours later to meet Rashford, but was made to wait until 9.40pm before a Mercedes van collected her.

She said she was taken in a taxi to the Villa Italia restaurant to meet Rashford and his entourage where the United star had booked out the top floor and brought his own Bluetooth speaker to listen to his favourite rap music.

Adair stated that Rashford was drinking tequila with his friends and was 'clearly on a mission to get drunk'.

She said the group then headed on to the nightclub Thompson's, where he was pictured by other revellers, before going to a private area The Attic for more drinks.

A source close to Rashford told the Sun that he left the club at 1.15am, but Adair said the group stayed out until close to 2am before his security decided to take him back to his hotel.

When they got back to the Fitzwilliam Hotel, where Rashford was staying in the £1,500-a-night residence suite, Adair claimed she had to put him to bed.

Adair said: 'He was so drunk at this point.

'Then he falls back into the wall and I have to kind of scoop him up and on to the bed. He was fully dressed and I reckon he just passed out like that. He didn't even get under the covers.'

She awoke at 9.30am on Friday to find out Rashford had left four-and-a-half hours earlier.

He landed back in Manchester at 8am, but did not train that day after phoning in sick.

A source close to Rashford told the Sun that he had less than £1,000 in cash on him, adding: 'Marcus accepts his standards have fallen well short of what is expected.'

After leaving Rashford out of his squad on Sunday, Erik ten Hag vowed to deal with the 'internal matter'.

United released a statement on Monday evening confirming Rashford had taken responsibility for his actions and they now consider the matter closed.

It said: 'Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions. This has been dealt with as an internal disciplinary matter, which is now closed.'

Mail Sport reported on Monday that his teammates were not happy with his actions, which came ahead of the club's match against Newport County  in the FA Cup, which represents their only realistic chance of a trophy this season.

A source said: 'The players were told he was too ill to train, and then it came out that he'd been in the nightclub. They couldn't believe that he would do that given the situation the club is in.'

United sources wouldn't say if Rashford has been punished by Ten Hag, who has the power to fine the player two weeks' wages totalling around £630,000.

They confirmed that Rashford has returned to training and is contention for Thursday's trip to face Wolves at Molineux where he was dropped last season after turning up late for a team meeting.

On the 'It's All Kicking Off' podcast, Mail Sport star columnist and Premier League winner Chris Sutton, tore into Rashford for his alleged lack of discipline.

'Marcus Rashford is like a good few Manchester United players at this moment in time,' said Sutton.

'He thinks he's untouchable. This hasn't been the first time where he's had a misdemeanour. It's been continuous. He has no respect for the manager and no respect for his teammates. That's the bottom line.

'He's probably thinking he is going to outlast Ten Hag anyway but he's out of control as far as I can see.'

This is the second time this season that Ten Hag has had to deal with the fallout from Rashford's nightclubbing.

Ten Hag branded the player's behaviour as 'unacceptable' in October after he celebrated his 26th birthday with family and friends at Chinawhite straight after United had lost to Manchester City in the Old Trafford derby.

The Red Devils suffered a 3-0 defeat to Pep Guardiola's side, but Rashford was seen hours later partying in the nightclub.

Ten Hag addressed the matter back in October, saying: 'I spoke with him about it. It's unacceptable. He apologised and that is it. For us it's an internal matter.'

The Dutchman added: 'He [Rashford] is very motivated to put things right. He's totally with us.

'He has made a mistake but that doesn't say he's not fitting in. I see him every day in training, what he's doing, I know.'

On the pitch, the 26-year-old has endured a frustrating campaign, netting just four times in all competitions, compared to his 30-goal mark last term.