COS sent intrepid reporters Liam Tomkins and Dom Campbell to savour Soccer Aid 2010 last weekend, little did they know that Woody Harrelson would score the winning penalty!
Last Sunday I was one of approximately 65,000 people lucky enough to be sat at Old Trafford as a host of football legends and bonafide celebrities took to the pitch to battle it out for the title of Soccer Aid Champions 2010. Oh, and Paddy Kielty turned up too.
Despite the seating having clearly been designed for people lacking in the leg department, the Theatre of Dreams was the perfect venue for such an occasion and the ground was largely filled corner to corner making for a lively atmosphere. There was even a hint of World Cup fever hitting the stands as the sound of air horns and vuvuzelas rang out to greet the teams as they emerged from the tunnel.
Leading out England was Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, followed by his evergreen assistant James Corden. Taking charge of the rest of the world were Liverpool legends Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush. Several hugs and handshakes later, Pierluigi Collina signalled the start of the game that saw legends and celebrities such as Alan Shearer and Robbie Williams go head to head with some formidable opponents including former France ace Zinedine Zidane and fiery celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey.
As was widely expected, the game started at a snail’s pace with both teams seeming reluctant to give the other an opportunity to embarrass them in front of a near capacity crowd. But for a first half penalty save by former England keeper David Seaman, there was little to shout about in terms of the match itself. It was up to the fans, then, to provide their own entertainment in the form of an epic Mexican wave which circulated the stadium for several minutes before all but one man in front of me decided enough was enough.
Eventually, and with just seconds remaining in the first half, Alan Shearer put Jamie Redknapp in on goal and the former Liverpool midfielder fired past Jens Lehmann to give England the lead at the break.
Both managers made changes at half time, most notably opting to replace David Seaman and Jens Lehman with Jamie Theakston and Paddy Kielty, respectively. If ever there was a sure fire indication that goals were to follow it came in the form of the latter’s warm up as both Luis Figo and Jens Lehmann repeatedly put shots past him from way outside the box.
Sure enough, it wasn’t too long into the second half before England were 2 up. Former Manchester Utd striker Teddy Sherringham enjoyed his return to Old Trafford, marking it with a signature goal. However, England’s joy was short-lived as the The Rest Of The World quickly hit back through Joe Calzaghe before Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia rose like a salmon to head home the equalizer.
From this point on there was little left to do but sit back and admire the few players that stood out head and shoulders above the rest. Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane seemed to cut almost everyone else out of the game as they showed glimpses of the kind of football that we all love to remember them by.
With the game ending in a draw, the two teams went on to compete in a penalty shootout which lasted the best part of 20 minutes before Woody Harrelson finally poked past Jamie Theakston to claim the trophy for The Rest Of The World. The real winner, though, was children’s charity Unicef which will benefit from £2.5m raised by the event.
All in all Soccer Aid 2010 proved to be a real hit for everyone involved. Celebrities such as Olly Murs and Michael Sheen realised their own dreams in playing at such an incredible venue, and football legends including Alan Shearer and Ryan Giggs had the chance to give something back after being lucky enough to ply their trade in such a lucrative and rewarding business for their entire careers.
This, then, was not the most explosive of football matches, but nor was it totally tame. In the end, it was what it was; real good fun for a real good cause. CLICK HERE to donate to UNICEF
David Seaman rolls back the years with this penalty save
Sami Hyypia runs 100 yards to almost score