26/05/2012 08:12 | By Lucy Mapstone, editor, MSN Celebrity

Soccer Aid 2012: MSN speaks to the stars raising money for UNICEF

Sunday 27 May marks the fourth Soccer Aid event, a global combination of celebrities and sporting heroes going head-to-head on the football pitch to raise money for UNICEF. Started in 2006 by Robbie Williams and Jonathan Wilkes, Soccer Aid has so far managed to raise £7.5m for children suffering in the world's poorest countries, and this year the aim is to get that total to over the £10m mark.

This year's England team is captained by Robbie Williams and the Rest of the World team is being led by Hollywood star Michael Sheen, and they'll be playing at the iconic Old Trafford stadium in Manchester.

Michael Sheen and Robbie Williams (© ITV)

Team captains Michael Sheen and Robbie Williams

MSN had the chance to go down to meet some of the stars and footballing icons on their pre-match training day to chat to them about what it means to them, who they're most worried about, scheming tactics and special footballer nicknames...

Rest of the World
The Rest of the World team this year is captained by Frost/Nixon star Michael Sheen, and his teammates include Hollywood stars Will Ferrell, James McAvoy, Ed Norton, Gerard Butler, Woody Harrelson, as well as Kasabian rocker Sergio Pizzorno, former boxer and reality TV star Joe Calzaghe and chef Gordon Ramsay. The football legends on the team include Roy Keane, Freddie Ljungberg and Edwin van der Sar, with Kenny Dalglish as their manager.

Rest of the World team (© ITV)

Rest of the World team training

We met with some of the team members to find out how training is going, and more...

How has the training been going?
Michael Sheen: "We've had secret training... in Afghanistan!"
Will Ferrell: "Yes, with Special Ops."
James McAvoy: "I've done very little today actually, yesterday I did a little bit of training. Today an old injury has come back so I've been getting physiotherapy and acupuncture and I'vealso been diagnosed with having flat feet! So I'm on the way to my whole life changing at the age of 33!"
Sergio Pizzorono: "It's been mad getting up having breakfast, travelling in a coach and playing on that surface, it's really living the dream. Being a professional footballer is hard work though, I thought it'd be a bit easier than this!"
Ed Norton: "It's fun to mix it up with people who are outstanding at a sport. We were all saying at lunch that it's very different from seeing things on the TV. You get a more up close appreciation to how much skill these guys really have. It's a real testament to the 10,000 hours they've put in training."

And how many hours have you put in?
James: "Er, four."

"I need a list of the Manchester hotspots. I have not heard much about the place. Obviously it's where The Beatles came from, and, marmalade. Duh." - Will Ferrell

Which of your movie characters do you think would perform best on the football pitch?
James: "Mr Tumnus! Goat boy? Yes! In there, heading the ball at the goal, ball gets stuck in the horns; we'd have 100% possession in the team."
Michael: "Well I had the opportunity of playing Brian Clough so obviously he'd be good, that would be my pick. I'm not sure about Kenneth Williams though, I'm not aware of his footballing career. David Frost was a goalkeeper! He played professional football for a while. Or maybe Tony Blair..."
Will: "The problem is a lot of my characters are Americans who generally hate soccer, so I think they'd all be just terrible."

How will you be trying to scare the England team before the game?
Michael: "What I tend to do is I go to each England player's room and I leave Joe Calzaghe in there, so that when they wake up all they see is him standing over them and that tends to do the trick!"
Kenny Dalglish: "I just show them our team picture."

How does the lifestyle of a footballer differ from the lifestyle of a movie star?
Ed: "I think footballers are a bit more needy and primadonna-y?"
James: "I'm not joking you but I think you're right. You're so right! But their lives are so regimented as well, I think with ours, the routine is kind of re-set every few months."

Who on the England team is scaring you the most?
James: "The JLS boys look quite tasty? And Kevin Phillips is like lightening, he's like a wasp. Hopefully they'll play him up front because he's a nuisance."

"What I to do is I go to each England player's room and leave Joe Calzaghe in there. That tends to do the trick!" - Michael Sheen

Are you looking forward to a big celebratory night out in Manchester if you win?
Will: "Well, I need a list of the hotspots... I have not heard much about the place. Obviously it's where The Beatles came from... and, marmalade. Duh."
Michael: "The big celebration will be if we raise enough money for UNICEF. And then we'll get very, very drunk."

Who on your team do you think has a hidden talent?
Serge: "I think Will is a decent player, and Ed. They're both great and will be good on Sunday. They've got good striking skills."

And who is the weakest on the England team?
Joe Calzaghe: "It depends who I kick! It depends on who's looking at me the wrong way really. I don't know, let's give it 10 minutes when I'm a bit grouchy..."

Eek! Let's hope the England players don't make Joe Calzaghe angry!

Check out this video of the England and Rest of the World teams training before the big day! It's very amusing...

We also had the chance to interview our England boys, the players who will be hoping to take the title back after losing to the Rest of the World at the last Soccer Aid in 2010. The team is captained by Robbie Williams, and includes singers Olly Murs, Marvin Humes (JLS) and Aston Merrygold (JLS), comedians John Bishop and Paddy McGuiness, actor Jason Isaacs and TV stars Ben Shephard, Jamie Theakston and Jonathan Wilkes. The former professional players on the team include Teddy Sherringham, Kevin Phillips and David Seaman, and the team is managed by Sam Allardyce and coached by Bradley Walsh.

The England team (© ITV)

The England team during their pre-match training

We talked to some of the England players about tactics, how Ben Shephard is going to lead them to victory and, er, some very special sporting nicknames...

Why is Soccer Aid such a big deal?
Johnathan Wilkes: "It's amazing to think it was just a little idea me and Rob came up with and Soccer Aid has now become a monster really. The money raised is incredible. And the great thing this year is that the government will match everything we raise, pound for pound. Whatever we do make it's doubled."
Robbie Williams: "It means we've helped to raise a load of dough. And I'm very pleased to be doing it. And I get to do something I love - it's a win-win really."
Sam Allardyce: "And with all the money we raise, long may it last!"
Olly Murs: "Well, I'm missing the One Direction tour in America, I'm meant to be there, but there's no way I could miss Soccer Aid."
Ben Shephard: "So you gave up one of the most important career moves in your life...
Olly: "...To come here to support Soccer Aid!"
Kevin Phillips: "I'm blowing out my family! I'm sending them out to Egypt on their own on holiday. But it's for UNICEF and I'm so honoured to be involved with these guys."

How has the training been going?
Robbie: "I've been ill. I've not been able to train. But normally it's a good three or four months of training."
Paddy McGuiness: "It's been good. We turn up here, you're all having a laugh, you get in the changing room and your kit's all hung up for you, your boots are polished, you're having a kick-about, and there's Bradley Walsh too... I'm really, really enjoying it."
John Bishop: "I've just got over a virus so I'm a little bit behind with training, but it's a good laugh, that's the main thing."

"We've helped to raise a load of dough. And I'm very pleased to be doing it. And I get to do something I love - it's a win-win really." - Robbie Williams

And do you have any footballing nicknames, like David Beckham and his Goldenballs?
Paddy: "Leadballs."

Nice! So how will you guys be putting 'the fear' into the Rest of the World team?
Jonathan: "We've got a lot of love for them."
Robbie: "Yeah a lot of love. But we'll do our talking on the field."
Jonathan: "And we'll give them a big cuddle at the end. When they've lost."
Olly: "Last time we had Hatton in our team but not this year... We've got Shephard though! Listen, we'll put Shep in each of THEIR hotel rooms. He'll sort them out."
Jason Isaacs: "I think the reason [England] will succeed as a team because that lot don't even speak the same language! And they can't even understand their manager. We're off to a winning start."
Jamie Theakston: "We also set fire to their kit..."

Who on the England team is likely to score on the day?
Ben: "Wilkes has done it before, Olly's got it in his locker, the JLS boys too... I think we've all got a chance."
Kevin: "I think the JLS guys have really impressed me but they should do - they're young!"
Ben: "They've only just been born!"
Jason: "Ben has suddenly got himself this amazing body. It was some six-week wheatgrass and raw hedgehog diet or something. He has an impressive 12-pack. And he's going in hard. He nearly crippled Graeme Le Seaux this morning in training. He was limping off the pitch! I was like, 'oi, Ben, he's on our side!'"

"We've got Ben Shephard! We'll put Shep in each of THEIR hotel rooms. He'll sort them out." - Olly Murs

And who on the other team worries you the most?
Robbie: "Serge is a great player; I've seen him play a few times. He's a big threat. But he's not as good as Ben Shephard... The Shepharnator. He is genuinely as hard as nails."
Jonathan: "Will Ferrell too, but I just hope he realises you get one goal for one goal and it's not five goals per goal!"

Do you have a pre-game routine?
Jamie: "We go into a big huddle..."
Jason: "And listen to Barry Manilow..."
Jamie: "And we all watch The Notebook..."
Jason: "And we cry together..."
Jamie: "And there's quite rigorous drug testing."
Jason: "Yeah, if you've not got any drugs, you're not allowed in."

Why should people support Soccer Aid and UNICEF?
Jason: "Everyone needs to remember that we're here to raise money for kids for UNICEF. The more money we can raise the more we can give to these kids and it's the most important thing."

Watch Soccer Aid live on ITV on Sunday 27 March at 6pm.You can support the good cause and donate money at unicef.org.uk.

26/05/2012 20:38
27/05/2012 07:35

England 3 ROTW 0   (Hat trick by Bradley Walsh!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


27/05/2012 21:19

I see, the idea is famous well off people & multi-millionaire footballers give their time up for free while us plebs have to pay a slice from our pittance of corn??!!


I'll put my donation in a unicef box, thank you. Once I hear how much the multi-millionaires have given


I hope the ground is free & none of the much needed funds are going to the present temporary 'owners' towards paying off their ma$$ive debt (June 2011 £1,086million).

26/05/2012 10:53

I think opportunities like these Charity Events gives the perfect opportunity for the D!cks on "Match Of The Day" - you know, the so called expert pundits like Hanson, Lineker, Lawrenson and Shearer to actually REFEREE a game of football.

I no longer watch this show because I get tired of hearing them, along with teams managers telling us that a game was lost because of poor refereeing.

Well then HANSON, LINEKER, LAWRENSON AND SHEARER, what a perfect opportunity this event would be for you to show all referees how it's done, and if not this year then I'm sure you'll do the next one.

One could be the REF, the other two the ASSISTANT REFS and the one to bottle it the most could be the FORTH OFFICIAL.

Just a thought!

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