Football is his religion: Jonathan Van-Tam dresses as nun to watch his beloved Boston United

Jonathan Van-Tam dressed as a nun
Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam dressed as a nun watching his club Boston at Hereford - Oliver Atkin

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam has been pictured dressed as a nun while cheering on his football team.

The architect of Britain’s response to the pandemic, whose colourful use of football metaphors during No 10’s press briefings helped turn him into a household name, wore a full nun’s habit and a cross around his neck during Boston United’s game at Hereford on Saturday.

Wearing fancy dress for the last away game of the season is a common tradition among football fans.

It is not known whether the former deputy chief medical officer bought the outfit for the occasion or had one lying around at home.

Sir Jonathan
Sir Jonathan used football metaphors at No 10 press briefings - Hannah McKay/Reuters

Boston’s 2-0 victory was praised as a “superb performance” by Prof Van-Tam, who also sits as the chairman of the Lincolnshire Football Association.

He told The Telegraph: “I am a lifelong and proud Pilgrims fan. I love an ‘awayday’, and being part of our immensely dedicated travelling support, whenever I have the time, taking part in all the traditions

“Thanks to a superb performance by our team, we are through to the play-offs.”

In March 2022, Prof Van-Tam, a season ticket holder, invited Prof Sir Chris Whitty to watch Boston play Gateshead during his final weeks of his medical officer role.

After the match, Sir Chris, who was knighted alongside his friend in the New Year’s Honours list, was asked if he was also a football fan. He replied: “Not as much as JVT. I heard about Boston every single Monday morning, so I feel I know about it better than anyone in the country.”

Proudly wearing his honour at Buckingham Palace in July 2022
Proudly wearing his honour at Buckingham Palace in July 2022 - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Prof Van-Tam was praised during the pandemic for using football metaphors to translate, at times, difficult scientific concepts into laymen’s language.

During the vaccine rollout in December 2020, he described its progress as the following: “It’s clear in the first half, the away team gave us an absolute battering, and what we’ve done now is it’s the 70th minute, they got a goal, and in the 70th minute we’ve now got an equaliser.

“OK, we’ve got to hold our nerve now, see if we can get another goal and nick it.”