It’s not long to go until celebrities and professional footballers battle it out on the pitch in the name of charity.
Singer Robbie Williams’ star-studded England side will take on Gold Olympic medallist Usain Bolt and his Soccer Aid World XI players in this years’ Soccer Aid match held at Old Trafford football ground, Manchester on Sunday, June 10.
The latest player announced to join the team is Manchester United legend Eric Cantona. He played nearly 150 times for the club scoring 82 goals in the process, winning two FA Cups and five league titles.
Cantona joins an impressive line-up of celebrities and former sportsmen already signed-up for Soccer Aid for Unicef this year, including: Robbie, Usain, Sir Mo Farah, Gordon Ramsay, Olly Murs, Mark Wright, Brendan Cole, Joe Wicks, Clarence Seedorf, Robert Pirès, Yaya Tourè, Jaap Stam, Patrick Kluivert, Edwin van der Sar, Kevin Pietersen, Dan Carter, David Seaman, Phil Neville, Jamie Redknapp, Danny Murphy, Robbie Fowler, Michael Sheen and Ben Shephard.
Olly, who is on the England team, is determined to up his game this year. He said, ‘I got a lot of stick last year for not getting on the scoresheet, so I’m more determined than ever this year to redeem myself!! Soccer Aid for Unicef is an amazing and exciting day for everyone involved. The atmosphere in the stadium is incredible, with every single player doing their bit to help children in danger all around the world. Just the thought of stepping out onto the Old Trafford pitch, (the home of football haha), fills me with nerves, boy-like excitement and endless goose bumps.’
But returning star and chef Gordon is prepared to take back the title from the England squad. Playing for the opposition, Soccer Aid World XI, he vowed, ‘Ever since I had to pull out of 2016’s match, I’ve been eager to reclaim my position in the Soccer Aid World XI squad and take back the title from the England team. It can’t be a coincidence that the last time I played, we smashed it out the park with a 4-2 win! What’s bigger than stepping out in front of 70,000+ fans at Old Trafford with the likes of Usain Bolt by my side? Bring it on!”
Joining Olly’s side, EXTRA TV presenter and former TOWIE star Mark will by flying more than 5,000 miles to compete. He said: ‘Topping my ‘Man of the Match’ performance and worldie free-kick in Soccer Aid 2016 is going to be hard, but I’m sure I can pull something out the bag. Getting another chance to play alongside football legends is a childhood dream come true, and knowing I’m going to be on the same pitch as Usain Bolt this year is absolutely mind-blowing.’
Paddy rejoins the England team. He said: “It’s always such a privilege to be asked back to play at Soccer Aid and represent England. I’ve stitched up and pranked a few players over the years – and let me tell you, this year nobody is safe! – but in all seriousness I’m here to help raise money for a great cause. Usain’s OK up to 9.58 seconds but the game is 90 minutes, let’s see what he’s got in the tank!”
Meanwhile there’s fighting talk from the professionals in terms of added entertainment value, Michael Owen, England, said: “I’m really looking forward to playing in Soccer Aid, helping raise money for Unicef. Pulling on the England shirt was always a huge honour for me… The only problem is that we’re going to have Paddy McGuinness marking Yaya Touré and Usain Bolt – that alone has got to be worth buying a ticket for!”
Jaap Stam, Soccer Aid World XI, added: “Having lost in 2016, we’re out to win the trophy back this year and the Soccer Aid World XI is looking strong. I think we’ve got a great chance!”
To date Soccer Aid for Unicef has raised over £24million for children’s charity Unicef UK in six matches over 12 years. The UK Government will match every £1 donated by the public through its UK Aid Match scheme, doubling the difference for children in danger around the world.
Tickets for the Soccer Aid for Unicef football match on Sunday, June 10 at Old Trafford are available here or by calling 0161 444 2018 with tickets priced between £10 and £50.
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