Comedian and presenter Alex Brooker has spoken about what it means to be the first disabled Soccer Aid player, saying: “I couldn’t think of anything that I’d rather be a part of.”
Brooker, 37, best known for presenting Channel 4 panel show The Last Leg, was born with hand and arm deformities and had his right leg amputated when he was a baby.
After it was announced that he will play for England in Soccer Aid 2022, Brooker told the PA news agency: “As a kid I played football, but it’s the one thing where, within the realms of my disability, I kept on trying to play as a teenager.
“I had operations on my legs when I was 16/17 and that was all just because I wanted to carry on playing football.
“And it was one of those things where, when I got to about 19, I realised that actually I’m just not going to be able to do it every week any more.
“And so, for me, football was the first time when actually my disability, genuinely, I can honestly say, it stopped me doing something and it bothered me.”
Brooker, who has a prosthetic leg, said: “I’ve not played football for a long time, but to be able to come back and be able to play in this is a really big thing for me.”
The comic also revealed that he is realistic about his ability on the pitch but hopes to inspire other disabled people and enjoy himself.
He said: “I’ve got to be honest with you, all goodwill aside, I’m still right footed and I don’t have a right foot, which is a big problem in terms of skill when playing football.
“It’s absolutely messed up, I don’t know how it happened. I kicked a ball long after I’d lost my foot and somehow, naturally for me, it’s with the side that’s missing. It would have been so much more ideal if it was the other side.
“But in terms of showing people, just get out and enjoy it! That’s what I’m here for, is to have this incredible experience.”
The match between England and a Soccer Aid World XI will feature a variety of famous faces including additional debuts by Lucien Laviscount and Arsene Wenger.
Former One Direction singer Liam Payne will captain England, while Usain Bolt captains the World XI.
Speaking about who he is most looking forward to playing against, Brooker told PA: “I don’t think you could get two people further apart in the speed scale than me and Usain Bolt. It is the furthest apart I reckon you could get. So that did make me laugh.
“I genuinely think he could walk at my top speed, or 100% go faster, so that’s a match-up, purely just for because how funny it would look on telly. I would love to try and get on the telly next to Usain.”
Martin Compston, Mo Gilligan, Harry Redknapp, Gary Neville, Fara Williams and Chunkz will also make their return to the pitch this year.
Brooker said: “To come on for 10 minutes for the kid who was told, whose parents were told, he probably wouldn’t walk, that’s a pretty big thing.”
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