Soccer Aid For Unicef kicks off tonight..!
It will be a big day for Manchester United and England’s all-time leading goalscorer as he returns to his old stomping ground – Old Trafford – and takes up his first ‘managerial’ role.
The Liverpool-born striker, who turns 35 next month and has also played for Everton and DC United, said he had been given ‘special dispensation’ from his current club, Derby County, where he is player coach, to manage the England side.
Rooney said: “Taking part in Soccer Aid for Unicef is something I have wanted to do for many years. Previously, I have never been able to make the dates work, but this year was obviously different. I was enormously proud to be asked to manage the England team and although there will be no fans at the match, it is always special to go back to Old Trafford.
“Simply, representing your country is always a huge honour – and this game is no different. Yes, the players and I want to win the match but the real victory is helping to raise millions of pounds for Unicef.”
Sam Allardyce – the former England manager and Soccer Aid stalwart – will be Rooney’s co-manager, with ex-England goalie David Seaman as goalkeeping coach.
Former England internationals Kelly Smith, David James and Lianne Sanderson, as well as former Manchester United and France defender Patrice Evra, will all make their Soccer Aid debuts this year, alongside famous faces such as Jason Manford, Joel Dommett, Santan Dave and James Bay.
Yaya Toure, Wes Brown, Katie Chapman and Robbie Keane have been confirmed to return, as have celebrities Olly Murs, Kem Cetinay, Marvin Humes and Joe Wicks.
The 2020 match had been originally scheduled for Sunday, June 6.
However, in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, and for the health and safety of all involved, a decision was taken to postpone the game until it was safe to reconvene. Soccer Aid for Unicef, the brainchild of Robbie Williams, began in 2006 and is now the world’s biggest pro-celebrity football match.
Over the years, it has raised more than £38million to help give children all over the world, with last year’s match netting £7.9million.
Dermot O’Leary on hand to present the live show, alongside Kirsty Gallacher, and this year, every £1 donated is automatically trebled thanks to the UK Government and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.
So, every £1 that is donated becomes £3 – up to £3 million – until October 6, 2020.
Back to matters on the pitch, and knowing Rooney’s competitive nature, he will be hoping to guide his England team to a win tonight.
The home side lead the head-to-head with five wins to the ROW’s three, although last year’s thrilling match at Stamford Bridge saw the visitors emerge victorious.
Jeremy Lynch’s brace followed by Usain Bolt’s response for the World XI meant the scores were 2-1 at the break.
However, after Rita Ora’s dazzling half time show, Cetinay scored a wonder goal to take the game to penalties, and keeper Nicky Byrne was the ROW’s shootout hero, saving from Lee Mack to secure the win.
Here’s hoping the players provide just as much entertainment tonight – and raise a few million quid in the process.
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