England win the Soccer Aid Cup, beating Rest of the World 2-1 in the Final. But it wasn't the proper England and Rest of the World teams. They both consisted of ex-players and also celebrities. The tournament was in aid of UNICEF children's charity. A huge crowd of 72,000 watched the game at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium - showing that the English love football so much, thousands turn out to watch even a bunch of mostly celebrities playing.
The England team consisted of ex-England internationals such as Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Tony Adams and David Seaman. It also had celebrities such as world famous singer Robbie Williams, Coronation Street actor Bradley Walsh and the actor Angus Deayton that starred in BBC comedy series One Foot in the Grave.
The Rest of the World team consisted of ex-footballers from around the world, such as Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Gianfranco Zola, Marcel Desailly, Gordon Ramsay and David Ginola. Also in the team were ice hockey star Sergei Fedorov, Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, Hollywood actor Alessandro Nivola, Australian rugby star David Campese and Prime Minister Tony Blair's Chief Press Secretary Alistair Campbell, a Scot.
The Argentinian Diego Maradona, who famously scored the "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup Quarter Final when he handballed the ball into the net but the goal was mysteriously allowed, scored the Rest of the World goal against England from a penalty after England player, the singer David Gray, handballed in the penalty area. How ironic.
England were the better team in the first half and Rest of the World were the better team in the second half. At the start of the second half Rest of the World cheated. The laws of the tournament were that each teams fields 7 celebrities and 4 Legends. But at the start of the second half Rest of the World player/manager Ruud Gullit tried to field a team consisting of 6 celebrities and 5 Legends.
The singer, actor and TV presenter Jonathan Wilkes was named Man of the Match. He scored England's winning goal.
Ex-Manchester United star and England 1966 World Cup winning hero Bobby Charlton, now a Manchester United director, handed out the losers' medals and the trophy. He was warmly hugged by Diego Maradona has he gave him his medal.
Pictured: From back L-R: Gray, Lewis, Adams, Theakston, Seaman, Barnes, Kelly, O`Sullivan, Walsh, Shephard, Wilkes, Venables, Williams (capt), Deayton and Gascoigne (Other players not pictured)
Manager - Terry Venables
Rest of the World team.
Pictured: From back L-R: Fedorov, Kielty, Poyet, Campbell, Irvine, Campese, McFadden, Johnson, Gullit, Ramsay (capt), Nivola and Doyle (Other players not pictured)
Player/manager - Ruud Gullit.
England managed to hold on to victory as a resurgant Rest of the World pushed them all the way.
England captain, the singer Robbie Williams, lifts the trophy.
Soccer Aid Final.
.....England 2-1 Rest of the World
Ferdinand 13.............Maradona (pen) 75
They came from near and far. The young, the old, and the slightly infirm. And that was just the players.
For the fans, 72,000 people packed into Old Trafford to witness an historic occasion: the final of Soccer Aid. And in the end, the match lived up to all the hype.
In a first half dominated by England, we saw moments of brilliance from England legends and celebrities alike. Les Ferdinand opened the scoring for Terry’s boys on thirteen minutes, and Jonny Wilkes – your man of the match – doubled the lead with a moment of individual brilliance.
But England only dominated one half.
Because as Ruud sent out a team containing five World legends, Terry smelt a rat. The rules stated only four players allowed and the England boys weren’t going to let Ruud get away with it. After a few minutes of confusion and consternation, the problem was resolved with Ruud replacing Ginola on the pitch.
And Gullit made all the difference.
Just as England dominated the first half, Ruud’s boys made their presence felt in the second. Maradona survived plenty of hefty tackles (1986 and all that) before floating a ball into the box which left David Gray quite befuddled. Lifting his hand into the air, Gray gave Colina little choice but to award a penalty, and Diego converted accordingly.
Yet try as they might, The Rest of the World couldn’t conjure up an equalising goal. Zola missed a golden opportunity to score a second as Theakston floundered outside the box, but the little Italian’s shot went woefully wide.
And as the time ticked on, you sensed it would be Robbie’s night.
Old Trafford erupted when Colina called time on an entertaining fixture, and the people went ballistic as Robbie lifted the trophy.
“It’s been amazing and I’d like to thank everybody,” Williams whinnied after the final whistle. “This is definitely going to happen again – maybe at Gordon’s place?”
Gordon, too, was gracious in defeat. “It was a close game,” Ramsay raved. “The guys have done a fantastic job.
“And it’s not often you can pass the captain’s band to Maradona.”
But that was the nature of the night. It was a unique occasion which brought together the best in the world of entertainment and the best in world football for the best of causes. England may have won the match, but thanks to you guys UNICEF were the big winners on the night.