Marvel’s Deadpool and that guy from the sitcom your roommate won’t shut up about have taken the world of football by storm. Wrexham AFC owners and A-list stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have garnered much praise for their work at the sleeping Welsh giants.
Fans and pundits were sceptical over having the Hollywood duo at the helm, but they currently sit second in the National League with promotion back to the Football League a real possibility. The Red Dragons were also in the hat for the fifth round of the FA Cup draw. In order to seal a lucrative home tie with Tottenham Hotspur, the Welsh side must overcome Sheffield United in their fourth round replay.
No matter what happens, Reynolds and McElhenney will go down as some of the most successful celebrity participants in the beautiful game. The history of the rich and famous delving into the sport of soccer is a patchy one at best. Here are some other examples of what happens when the stars meet the turf.
‘The King of Pop’ was allegedly big mates with Mohamed Al-Fayed, former owner of Fulham. Such was their friendship, ‘Jacko’ even endured a trip to watch the team play Wigan Athletic. This is the only confirmed instance of Michael Jackson and Geoff Horsfield ever being in the same place at the same time. Seismic.
Understandably, Al-Fayed took the ‘Thriller’ icon’s death hard. So hard in fact, that he erected a 7-foot-6 statue of the singer outside Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. It was an aesthetically bizarre piece, with its vivid colours making it look less like a monument and more like a giant action figure.
An amusing postscript to the Jackson/Fulham story arrived in 2014. Fulham were relegated to the Championship under the club’s new owner, Shahid Khan. Al-Fayed blamed this on the fact his successor had removed the ‘MJ’ statue. I guess getting rid of the statue was always likely to be… Dangerous. Sorry.
Celebrity chef Delia Smith was a Norwich City ticket holder who quite literally put her money where her mouth is when the club fell on hard times. She became joint-majority shareholder in the business, alongside her husband Michael Wynn-Jones. Under her stewardship, the Canaries have enjoyed a yo-yo existence, but one which by its nature has enjoyed as many successes as failures.
But nobody remembers Smith’s Norwich involvement for her careful stewardship and devotion to her club. They remember the culinary icon’s tenure for five slurred words, spat out during half time of a 2005 defeat to Manchester City: “Let’s be ‘avin’ you!”. Delia’s diatribe was delivered on the Carrow Road house mic and demanded a “12th man” from “the best foosball (sic) fans in the world”. Delia insists she wasn’t drunk when delivering the speech, and I for one believe her.
Many boxers have claimed football allegiances over the years. Some have been genuine, such as Josh Warrington’s fanatical support of Leeds United. Others have been more cynical, like Floyd Mayweather wearing a Manchester United shirt to rile devoted Cityzen, Ricky Hatton. We’ll let you judge Mike Tyson’s support of Peterborough United for yourself.
‘Iron’ Mike ventured to London Road for a pre-season friendly against West Ham United in 2010. Despite appearing to have no clue what was going on, Tyson got into the spirit of things. Clad in a personalised Peterborough shirt, the former heavyweight champion told the Telegraph, “I’ve never heard of Peterborough before but as soon as I heard it was West Ham I thought, we’ve got to really give it to them”. They lost 2-1 and ‘Kid Dynamite’ never returned to Posh.
Pioneer. Supreme. Immortal pop diva. Sh*ttest penalty taker this side of John Terry in Moscow. Diana Ross is all these things and more, but for our purposes we will choose to disregard one of the most decorated recording careers of all-time and focus on the fact she can’t kick a football.
The setting was the opulent opening ceremony for the USA-hosted 1994 World Cup. The task was sinking a penalty against a goalkeeper who had literally been paid not to save it. Ross was (really blatantly) miming along to ‘I’m Coming Out’ when she took a run-up that, on reflection, was far too long.
In fairness to the soul queen, she did find the time to invent the stuttered approach when she eventually got within distance of the ball. But after creating a piece of penalty gamesmanship that endures three decades later, she scraped the penalty hopelessly wide. The exploding-goalpost stunt that followed ended up looking like a punchline. Happily for Ross, her penalty miss ended up being less costly than the Roberto Baggio one that bookended the tournament.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change