Musician Tom Grennan has said he hopes Soccer Aid will bring a sense of “unity and pride” to people as he returns to play in the charity football match for a second year this June.
The Little Bit Of Love singer, 26, was on the winning Soccer Aid World XI team in last year’s game, and said his inner-child was “jumping for joy” when he got to meet his football heroes.
This year he will star on the England squad, which will be managed by Harry Redknapp and captained by former One Direction singer Liam Payne.
Grennan told the PA news agency he hopes people will take a “sense of unity and a sense of pride” from watching and taking part in the game.
He said: “Not just the footballers, because it’s the fans who are involved as well, and everybody behind the scenes who are involved in raising this money for Unicef.
“Everybody’s taking part in making a difference for sure.”
The singer was a hit with viewers when he played last year and he said his phone was “blowing up” when he got off the pitch.
“It was mad to think people thought I was great at football, and it was just good to be involved with the professionals here and also the celebrities as well,” he added.
“Everybody was here for a good time and to make a difference as well.”
Grennan said he does not often get nervous playing gigs as he “turns nerves into excitement”, and feels this is how he remained relaxed during the game.
Despite his apparent composed nature, he admitted he had been starstruck playing alongside some of the professional stars.
He told PA: “Footballers for me are like superheroes. When I was young, I had all these footballers’ posters on my walls.
“And last year, being around Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Roberto Carlos and players like that was just crazy.
“The little kid in me was jumping for joy but I tried to keep myself quite chilled when I was around them so I didn’t act weird, but inside I was shouting and screaming.”
The world’s biggest celebrity football match is returning in June to raise money for Unicef.
Since its creation in 2006, Soccer Aid has raised more than £60 million for the humanitarian organisation which helps to provide aid to children worldwide.
This year’s match between England and a Soccer Aid World XI will feature a variety of recognisable faces including debuts by TV presenter and comedian Alex Brooker, actor Lucien Laviscount and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
It will also see the return of Usain Bolt as captain of Soccer Aid World XI, as well as Martin Compston, Mo Gilligan, Gary Neville, Fara Williams and Chunkz all returning to the pitch.
Maya Jama and Alex Scott will again present the charity match at the London Stadium in Stratford, east London, with Dermot O’Leary hosting the live show.
During half-time, Soccer Aid co-creator Robbie Williams will perform his 1997 hit ballad Angels.
Soccer Aid 2022 will take place at the London Stadium on June 12 and will be aired live on ITV and STV.