Interview: Dermot Kennedy on Soccer Aid 2020

The world’s biggest charity football match,  Soccer Aid for Unicef , returns live and exclusive to ITV, tonight from 6.30pm, with a host of famous faces. England Managers Wayne Rooney and Sam Allardyce take on Soccer Aid World XI managers Harry Redknapp and Bryan Robson with the aim to entertain the nation and raise much needed funds for leading children’s charity, Unicef. 

How has training been going so far?
It’s been great, I’ve been struggling slightly physically – like some of the others who haven’t exercised in two years. As a musician I spend a lot of time travelling on my own so I love this, after you get off the training pitch and you’ve played a game of football for two hour, you feel so fulfilled – it’s total understanding and camaraderie. I was talking to some of the guys about it and we all feel so comfortable out there, I’m mad in to it . It’s also amazing knowing we’re raising money for such a great cause – helping Unicef support children and families impacted by coronavirus around the world.

Who have you enjoyed training with the most?
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Man United and also Robbie Keane so it’s a bit surreal when you’re on the pitch and passing the ball to him. It’s great because everyone here is so nice and kind and understanding. I know I ‘ll look back on this experience in a few days after it’s over and think how brilliant and surreal it’s all been. When I was 18 I started playing a high standard of football and I played with the same school boy team as Robbie Keane in Dublin and it was a crucial part of my life. Football was the most beautiful break for me, it’s just total clarity with no phones, everything goes away. Football is an important part of my life that I don’t get to do so much anymore. A lot of musicians say they feel so free and at peace on stage, I do too but football is that for me as well. 

Dermot O’Leary has picked you as his one to watch….
Ah, really? That’s nice. I hope I don’t let him down. It’s a rare name, Dermot, so it’s nice that he exists and has gone through the name difficulties and paved the way for me! At least, thanks to him, people know how to pronounce it now! 

Locksmith – Soccer Aid for Unicef Interview
How has training been going?
Training has been going really well. Everyone has been working really hard. On a personal level it’s been a bit of a battle trying to get over the injury but I think I’m over the worst of it. 

What has been the highlight since training started?
The highlight for me has been getting the band back together, so to speak. Having everyone here together, I’ve made new friends that I didn’t expect. You see all these people on the TV but you don’t know who they really are as people, so I’ve been enjoying getting to know everyone. 

Who are you most looking forward to playing with on Sunday?
I’m looking forward to going up against big Tom Davis! He’s a laugh a minute and I know he’s had a good couple of training sessions so he’s feeling confident! I can’t wait to break that confidence! I’ll be making sure I go around him instead of trying to go through him! Also I’m looking forward to playing with Claude Makelele, he’s won everything in the game and I’ve been watching him since I was a kid so it’ll be really good to play alongside him.

Who’s surprised you most in training?
Jason Manford has surprised me in training, although he may not have the legs for it he can do the basics pretty well and in training he scored a terrific goal that came off his shoulder….we’ll call it a volley of some sort [laughs]. That’s the beautiful thing about football, it brings together all walks of life, all races and cultures for one common goal, it’s amazing.

What has it been like being coached by Harry Redknapp?
I love Harry, he knows his players through and through and I love the way he boosts your confidence – so thanks Gaffer. He’s pulled me aside to say we’ve got to get your injury right because we need you, we’re going to need you out there. To hear that from the legend that is Harry Redknapp feels fantastic. 

I feel truly humbled and privileged to be asked to do Soccer Aid for Unicef and trying to help out and make a difference in people’s lives – I take that very seriously. To know that every pound that gets raised will be tripled is an amazing thing and it’s inspiring for everyone involved in Soccer Aid for Unicef. When you see the work that Unicef does, and the impact on children’s lives, they give people a fighting chance with the things in life we can often take for granted. 

Soccer Aid for Unicef airs tonight from 6.30pm, live on ITV