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Marcus Rashford has defended his off-field partnerships and questioned why footballers “can’t just do the right thing” for charity.

The Manchester United forward said on Twitter that the political magazine the Spectator was set to run a story suggesting he has “benefited commercially” from his campaigning.

Rashford has backed a number of child food poverty incentives and became the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List by raising £20m in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling the issue. The England player has also forced a series of government U-turns over free school meals during the pandemic.

The footballer posted a thread on Twitter saying: “Just heard spectator are planning to run a story on me tomorrow about how I have benefited commercially in the last 18 months. To clarify, I don’t need to partner with brands. I partner because I want to progress the work I do off the pitch and most of any fee I would receive contributes to that.

“Last summer, 1.3m children had access to food support, through my relationship with Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.

“Do I have a larger commercial appeal following the U-turns? I’m sure. But I’m also a Manchester United and England international footballer. Why has there always got to be a motive? Why can’t we just do the right thing? I actually enjoy reading bits from the Spectator now and again, but this is just a non-starter.”

Under Rashford’s Burberry partnership, the fashion company made a number of donations to youth charities and youth clubs, including London Youth and Norbrook Youth Club in Manchester, which he attended as a child.

Before that, he launched a petition urging the government to extend free school meals through the half-term and Christmas holidays, eventually pressuring ministers into providing £170m of extra funding.

Rashford, who received free school meals when he was a boy, was made an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s birthday honours list.

He was the target of online racist abuse after his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final against Italy. Abusive graffiti was also left on a mural of his face in Withington, Manchester.

The Spectator declined a request for comment.