Mark Strong trying not to get starstruck meeting Arsene Wenger for Soccer Aid
Mark Strong has said the idea of training with former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for Soccer Aid is something that is “off the charts”.
The Kingsman and Deep State star, 58, will be making his debut on the pitch at this year’s charity match, playing in the Soccer Aid World XI team, which is to be managed by Wenger.
Strong, who is a lifelong Arsenal supporter, will be joined on the pitch by famous faces including Martin Compston, Mo Gilligan, Chelcee Grimes, Patrice Evra and Robbie Keane, with Usain Bolt as the team captain.
Former One Direction star Liam Payne, 28, captains the England side, with a team that has Harry Redknapp as the manager, and players including last year’s star player Tom Grennan, as well as Chunkz, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Fara Williams, Joe Cole, Alex Brooker and David Seaman.
Strong told the PA news agency: “I’m feeling really excited, on a number of levels.
“I play five-a-side and have been for about 20 years, (it’s) a very different kind of game obviously, it’s not a full-size pitch and the idea that I, as an Arsenal supporter, get to train with Arsene Wenger for three days is off the charts frankly”.
Wenger announced the end of his nearly 22-year reign as Arsenal manager in April 2018 and is currently Fifa’s chief of global football development, a position he has held since November 2019.
Film and TV star Strong said he would have to try to avoid getting starstruck by Wenger, adding: “When he asks me to do something, I’ve got to actually do it rather than just stare at him open-mouthed.”
He added: “I was born in Islington, I grew up with Arsenal, and I’m a season ticket holder. And you know, he’s a big part of my life, he ran the club for 22 years.
“So he and the teams that he crafted and the kind of emotions that he kind of instilled in all of us are a big part of my life. So to meet the guy who was at the centre of all of that will be fascinating.”
Soccer Aid, labelled the world’s biggest celebrity football match, is returning in June to raise money for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Since its creation in 2006, Soccer Aid has raised more than £60 million for the humanitarian organisation, which helps to provide aid to children worldwide.
Soccer Aid For Unicef 2022 takes place on June 12 at The London Stadium, with tickets at socceraid.org.uk/tickets.