A TORY minister has been condemned for an “appalling” blunder after seeming to mistake Marcus Rashford for an England rugby player.

Gavin Williamson claimed to have met Manchester United star Rashford over Zoom, describing him as “charming” in an interview with the Evening Standard.

The Tory Education Secretary’s team later clarified, however, that he has never had direct contact with the footballer. Williamson had in fact spoken to ruby player Maro Itoje, who campaigned for millions of children in England to get access to laptops during lockdown.

Claiming that he had spoken to Rashford, Williamson told the Evening Standard: "We met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming but then he had to shoot off.

"I didn’t want to be the one that was holding him back from his training."

Rashford laughed off the mix-up, responding with a crying laughing emoji on Twitter. The Mancunian added: “Accent could have been a giveaway.”

The player’s spokesperson, who confirmed he has never met the Education Secretary, said: "Marcus' consistent ask to those in power has been collaboration. More often than not this ask is rebuffed.

“Maro and Marcus are two incredibly successful young black men, but there is little more they have in common.”

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It is the second time Rashford has been the subject of a high-profile mix-up by a Tory minister.

In June, then-health secretary Matt Hancock called the England star “Daniel Rashford”.

The Manchester United player’s spokesperson added: "Whether it's Daniel Rashford or a Maro Itoje reference, the message remains the same. Put our children first."

Labour shadow cabinet member David Lammy was one of several opposition MPs to rebuke Williamson, who is reportedly set to be demoted by Boris Johnson in a Cabinet reshuffle.

He tweeted: “"What was it about @maroitoje that made you mistake him for @MarcusRashford?

"You must be the most ignorant, clueless and incapable Education Secretary in the UK's history."

LibDem education spokesperson Daisy Cooper described it as a "shocking and embarrassing admission".

“The Education Secretary has let down children, parents and teachers by failing to secure enough cash to catch up on lost learning during the pandemic," she said.

"Now he has confused two black sporting heroes and failed to recognise Marcus Rashford, who has led the charge on fighting child poverty.

“If rumours of an imminent reshuffle are true, this must surely be the final nail in the coffin for Gavin Williamson holding ministerial office ever again."