More than 74,000 fans will roar Soccer Aid for UNICEF back to Manchester United’s Old Trafford on Sunday 11th June. Lionesses’ Euro 2022 winner, and Queen of The Jungle, Jill Scott will captain England – the first time a female player has skippered England in the world’s biggest charity football game. The Three Lions have not won a Soccer Aid for UNICEF match since 2018.
In an effort to win back the trophy, England have unveiled one of their strongest-ever line-ups. Today, 25 names were revealed – six of which are making their debuts. More names are set to be announced in the coming weeks. Jill Scott will play alongside fellow debutants including chart-topping DJ Joel Corry, and Manchester-based rapper and actor Bugzy Malone.
Paddy McGuinness returns to the game – and will play in goal for the first time ever as England’s designated celebrity goalkeeper. England’s ranks are boosted further by three more new additions – former Lioness Karen Carney, Chelsea’s Champions League-winning defender Gary Cahill and Arsenal’s two-time FA Cup-winning midfielder, Jack Wilshere. Recently retired Premier League star striker Jermain Defoe is also back and will provide England with firepower up top.
Jill Scott said: “The Euros, The Jungle and now Soccer Aid for UNICEF – it’s the holy trinity! I’ve won two of them, so just need Soccer Aid now to complete ‘The Treble’! I think of all three, this might be the one I’m most nervous about, though – just look at the names involved! Buy a ticket, support this amazing cause and cheer us on!”
Bugzy Malone said: “Manchester – I’m coming home! Can’t believe Soccer Aid for UNICEF is in my hometown this summer – big vibes. I’m going to smash it but will need everyone to come out if we’re to beat Bolt! This might be a football match on the day – but the legacy we are creating for the world’s children is so much deeper. It’s massive.”
Joel Corry said: “I’ve played some big gigs in my time – but this is going to be up there. I know the atmosphere at Old Trafford is going to be electric. Everyone I’ve spoken to has told me what a great day it is and of course the fans are a huge part of that. Playing at Old Trafford will be a dream come true and I hope as many of you as possible can come along and support.”
Jack Wilshere said: “I am really looking forward to lacing up my boots again – and playing with some of my old friends. I can’t tell you how good these legends are and I’m told a few of the celebrities are quite handy too! As a father to young children, taking part in this game has extra significance for me – and I would urge people to buy tickets and show their support too.”
The last Soccer Aid for UNICEF match at Old Trafford, with fans, was in 2018 – coincidentally, the last time England lifted the trophy! Old Trafford also played host to the behind-closed-doors game in COVID-affected 2020.
Many more famous faces are set to be revealed in the coming weeks but those announced today for the Soccer Aid World XI FC are, in full: Usain Bolt (Captain) Robbie Keane (Coach), Lee Mack, Steven Bartlett and Kem Cetinay. For England, in full: Emma Hayes (Co-Manager), Vicky McClure (Co-Manager), Jill Scott (Captain), Paddy McGuinness (Celebrity Goalkeeper), David James (Professional Goalkeeper), Jermain Defoe, Joel Corry, Karen Carney, Gary Cahill, Jack Wilshere, Bugzy Malone, Tom Grennan, Sir Mo Farah, Alex Brooker, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Eni Aluko and Chunkz.
The live show on ITV1, STV and ITVX will be hosted by UNICEF UK Ambassador Dermot O’Leary, who will be joined once again by Alex Scott, UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter. Since 2006 – when UNICEF UK Ambassador Robbie Williams co-founded the concept – Soccer Aid for UNICEF has raised over £75 million to help give children all over the world a childhood full of play. Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2022, at the London Stadium, raised a record-breaking £15 million. UNICEF UK Ambassador Robbie Williams said:
“I’m so proud that Soccer Aid for UNICEF has raised over £75 million since we started it 17-years-ago. It’s an incredible achievement that will help UNICEF ensure children around the world get the best start in life. But we can’t stop there! Right now, childhoods are being turned upside down by conflict and crisis. We’d like as many people as possible to buy a ticket to this year’s star-studded match and help protect play for every child. Thank you so much for your support.”
This year, there has never been a more challenging time for children. Right now, they are facing war, disasters, and other crises in countries around the world. When children lose their homes, their families, and their schools, they lose out on happy, healthy, play-filled childhoods. Just when they need that safe space and moment of escape the most, it’s gone.
Soccer Aid for UNICEF is working hard to give children around the world the carefree, play-filled childhoods they deserve. The money raised from this year’s game could help UNICEF fight malnutrition, keep children safe in times of crisis, and get them back to school. It could also help provide vaccines against preventable diseases such as polio, so all children can grow up happy, healthy and able to play.
Together we’re protecting play for every child. Soccer Aid for UNICEF is delighted to welcome back returning Principal Partners Puma and Primark, with further thanks to Official Partners EA Sports and STATSports. Announcements on further exciting partnerships will be made in due course.
Kenneth Shepherd, Executive Director, Soccer Aid Productions, said: “We are delighted that Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2023 will take place at Old Trafford, this June. The match promises to be one of our best ever thanks to an incredible talent line-up.”
“I would also like to thank our Principal Partners – Puma and Primark and our Official Partners – EA Sports and STATSports, the support and generosity of which is invaluable in allowing us to raise important funds for UNICEF. I would also like to thank our longest-ever serving partner Manchester United and the Manchester United Foundation. Their support – from Richard Arnold to John Shiels – remains incredible.”
By: Callum McFadden / @Callum7McFadden
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Eamonn McCormack – The FA