Since coming up with the idea of staging a biennial celebrity football match to raise funds for the children’s charity UNICEF, Robbie Williams has led England against a Rest of the World XI in two of the three Soccer Aid games, wining one and losing the other on penalties.
As the 38-year-old singer prepares to pull on the captain’s armband for a third time at Old Trafford this Sunday (ITV1), we caught up with him to find out more…
Do you fancy England or the Rest of the World to win this year?
“It’s going to be quite a match. The Rest of the World team has Hollywood stars Mike Myers and Will Ferrell and football legends such as Edwin van der Sar and Ruud van Nistelrooy. This year, England will really have to dig out a win.”
What’s it like playing in the Soccer Aid matches?
“I have so much adrenaline pumping through my veins, I’m like a big kid who is overwhelmed by playing in one of the most recognisable stadiums in the world.”
Is it a bigger buzz than being on stage singing to thousands of fans?
“At least on stage I know more or less what I’m doing. When that ball gets played to you from the centre of the pitch, it seems to take for ever to reach your feet, so I over-think it and my touch completely goes.”
Who’s been the hardest man on the pitch?
“Because it’s a charity game, I haven’t experienced too much of that, but this year Roy Keane is turning out for the Rest of the World. I’m putting Ben Shephard up against him.”
Your LA Vale team plays on a pitch at your Los Angeles home. Have any of the Soccer Aid guys played there?
“Gerard Butler’s been up, and so have Will Ferrell and Gordon Ramsay. What can I say, it’s all very Hollywood and has done wonders for my social life.”
How was your April trip to Mexico City with Soccer Aid co-founder Jonathan Wilkes?
“Just seeing the amount of money that’s raised as a result of our simple idea gets me more excited every year. Those trips change your life but, if I let the enormity of what’s happening to these people in, it would break me. This time it hit home more than ever, what with my wife Ayda being pregnant.”
Will Ayda be coming to watch you perform at the Diamond Jubilee concert?
“Ayda, her mother and my mum are all going to be there, and I’m really excited about it.”
What will you say to the Queen if you meet her?
“I’ll say ‘Hello Ma’am’, and then let her do the rest. She must be used to having all kinds of idiotic things said to her, so I think I’d better keep it simple.”