Juan Mata has said his Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford should never stick to football, as some critics have told the striker amid his battle to help children.
In June, Rashford successfully lobbied the government to extend its policy of providing free meals for underprivileged children into the summer months through the school holidays.
Rashford hit out at the UK Government this week as a vote to extend free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 was defeated.
Mata has saluted the work that Rashford, who was recently awarded the MBE, has done and encouraged the striker to ignore his critics.
"It's important for every player to realise the platform that we have, the message that we can get across and the amount of people that we can help," Mata told the Pitch to Post Preview podcast.
"I'm very proud of what Marcus has been doing. On the pitch, of course, we know how good he is and he is still performing very well but off the pitch also, the work he's been doing over the last months has been great.
"He has improved the quality of life for so many kids in this country, which I'm sure everyone is proud of. His family should be proud of him, me, as a team-mate, and the club are very proud of him.
"And I think it's important also to get the message that of course we are football players and our main focus is our professional life, which is training and playing football and being ready to perform but that doesn't take away from having time to do these kind of things, which doesn't take any focus away from our professional life.
"I've seen some people saying, Marcus should stick to playing football and things like that, which I don't really agree with because he can do both, as he's showing. And I'm very proud of what he's done and he's getting the reward he deserves."
Mata also praised his old team-mate Frank Lampard ahead of Man Utd's meeting with Chelsea on Saturday.
"You could feel from the first day that I arrived to Chelsea's dressing room that he was a very intelligent man," Mata said.
"He knew a lot about football and he understood the game really well as a player. You could imagine that he would be a very good manager, like he's showing now."