Dermot O’Leary: Soccer Aid produces ‘crazy moments’ not seen in regular games

Dermot O’Leary has said one of the great things about Soccer Aid is it can produce “crazy moments” on the pitch that you would not see during a regular football game.

The TV presenter, 49, has hosted the charity football match since 2010 and will be back at the helm in June when a host of famous faces go head-to-head at Old Trafford.

Reflecting on some of his standout moments over the years, O’Leary recalled the shocking moment when football manager Jose Mourinho took to the pitch to tackle singer Olly Murs.

O’Leary told the PA news agency: “The great thing about Soccer Aid is that you have these incredible moments that are punctuated by these wonderfully informative and heartfelt films that give you the backdrop as to why we’re doing it.

“But then you get these crazy moments on the pitch that you can never have and that’s the great thing about live TV.

“Whenever anyone says ‘anything can happen at live’ it normally means they don’t want anything to happen.

“The great thing about Soccer Aid, as soon as you go live, you can’t control what’s going on on the pitch.”

He added that seeing Mourinho, who was coaching the Rest of the World squad in 2016, intervene in the match by tackling Murs was an “incredible breaking-the-fourth wall moment” for him.

“The whole stadium was stopped still for a second going ‘What? That’s not in the rules for a manager to come and pick someone off’,” he recalled.

“And Olly got really hacked off for like half a second because he was in the heat of the moment but then he cracked that lovely Olly smile and then the whole stadium went ‘Oh yeah it’s Soccer Aid, it’s a bit different’.”

O’Leary admitted he would “love” to get on the pitch one year but thinks it would be a “horror show” as the standard of the players is so high.

“I talked to ITV and I was quite flattered they weren’t very happy about it, they just went ‘No you need to host the show’,” he revealed.

“And then I was just full of delusions of grandeur like ‘You’re absolutely right I do need to host the show, I’m far too important to go on the pitch’. But that’s actually not true at all.

“The standard is really good. I’m not a bad five-a-sider but football pitches are huge, when you’re there and you realise they’re kicking the ball from one side to another and you’re actually on the pitch – that’s really difficult. So I think me playing would be a horror show.”

Former England footballer and Euros winner Jill Scott will be captaining the England team this year while Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is back to lead the World XI FC.

Scott’s squad will include TV presenter Paddy McGuinness, who returns as England’s designated celebrity goalkeeper, and former professional footballers Karen Carney, Jermain Defoe, Gary Cahill, David James and Jack Wilshere.

Emma Hayes and Vicky McClure will co-manage the team as DJ Joel Corry, rapper Bugzy Malone, singer Tom Grennan, Olympian Sir Mo Farah, comedian Alex Brooker, former footballer and pundit Gary Neville, coach Paul Scholes, commentator Eni Aluko and YouTuber Chunkz also join the England line-up.

They will face competition from Bolt, former striker Robbie Keane as coach, comedian Lee Mack, Dragons’ Den star Steven Bartlett and Love Island winner and presenter Kem Cetinay.

O’Leary said he is “over the moon” that Scott is captaining this year and feels it is “incredibly progressive” that there is a greater mix of genders on the squads, something he revealed they had been working towards for years.

Soccer Aid, co-founded by pop star Robbie Williams in 2006, raises money for humanitarian aid organisation Unicef to help children in need around the world.

The charity match is back at Manchester United’s Old Trafford on June 11 and will be broadcast on ITV1, STV and ITVX.

A family of four can attend the game for £60 – and tickets are available at