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Liam Payne hopes he has ‘big enough personality’ to pull off Soccer Aid captaincy

Liam Payne poses in a Soccer Aid for UNICEF football kit for the launch of Soccer Aid 2022 (Soccer Aid/PA)
Liam Payne poses in a Soccer Aid for UNICEF football kit for the launch of Soccer Aid 2022 (Soccer Aid/PA)

Liam Payne hopes he won’t make a “fool” of himself in his Soccer Aid debut adding he has “a lot to live up to” following in the footsteps of his One Direction bandmates.

The match between England and Soccer Aid world XI will feature a variety of famous faces including debuts from Alex Brooker, Lucien Laviscount and Arsene Wenger.

Former One Direction singer Payne will captain England, while Usain Bolt captains the Soccer Aid World XI team.

Payne, 28, told the PA news agency: “I hope I’m a big enough personality to be able to pull it off because the football is not going to be able to help me.

“It’s a fun, fun game and its actually my debut, a lot of my bandmates have already played so I feel like I’ve got quite a lot to live up too.

“I wouldn’t say I was the worst footballer in the band, but I wasn’t far off.”

Bandmate Niall Horan faced off against his One Direction co-star Louis Tomlinson at the 2016 tournament, before returning to play in the 2019 match.

Payne said he is “scared and excited” about the match on June 12 and hopes he is “worthy” of the captain’s armband.

“I’ve watched a lot of football games over the years and you’re always thinking ‘I could hit that shot’ or ‘I could do that,’ so for me it’s a little bit of a chance to cosplay in a way and be part of it.

Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2021 – Etihad Stadium
World XI’s Usain Bolt lifts the trophy after winning the SoccerAid match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester in 2021 (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I have started training and I’ve already trained too hard, my trainer told me off.

“I’m really excited. I’m very much a person that when I get involved in something I get way too involved and I think a lot of my team would say that about me.

“So I’ve really put my heart and soul into it. I’m hoping by the time we come around to it, I’ll be worthy of that armband,” he said.

Martin Compston, Mo Gilligan, Harry Redknapp, Gary Neville, Fara Williams and Chunkz will also make their return to the pitch for 2022.

“Everyone I’ve met so far has been really, really lovely, so it seems like a really good team to be around and we all know why we are here and it’s a very, very important thing to do, super grateful.

Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2019 – Stamford Bridge
Soccer Aid World XI’s Martin Compston in action during the 2019 match at Stamford Bridge, London (Nigel French/PA)

“I hope I don’t make a fool of myself and I just hope that we get everything we can for the cause and remember the real reason why we’re all on that pitch,” he said.

Payne added that Soccer Aid co-creator Robbie Williams, who will perform his 1997 hit ballad Angels for 60,000 fans at half-time, is his “hero.”

“He was the reason that I started to sing,” he said.

Since its creation in 2006, Soccer Aid has raised more than £60 million for Unicef, which helps to provide aid to children worldwide.

Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2022 takes place on June 12 at The London Stadium, with tickets at

socceraid.org.uk/tickets

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