The Dalai Lama’s blessing of Bradford City ahead of their League Cup final got Football Burp thinking back over other unlikely celebrity football fans – well, at least if you define ‘celebrity’ in the sense of ‘well-known’ rather than Hollywood, Hello Magazine and such-and-such, albeit most of the people om this list fall into the latter category…
P-Diddy – Crystal Palace
The former Puff Daddy’s publicist let slip that he was thinking of moving into the football business (Diddy, that his, not his publicist). After rumours spread that Diddy did indeed dig the bling inherent in the name Crystal Palace, Brendan Guilfoyle of The P&A Partnership – administrators to the then-in-administration Eagles – said he “would willingly fly to New York to meet him to discuss a purchase”, adding that he was “a big hip-hop fan”.
P Diddy then bought Crystal Palace out and led them to back-to-back Champions Leagues. Nah, of course not, but that other stuff happened.
Osama Bin Laden – Arsenal
“Obama-woah-woah, He’s hiding near Kabul, He loves the Arsenal”. Legend has it that the recently-killed evil bloke twice attended Highbury during the Gunners’ ultimately victorious run to the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup final: a 3-0 win over Standard Liege and a 1-0 triumph over Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-final. Soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Arsenal officials felt moved to issue the Taliban nutter with a lifetime ban – a spokesperson said: “We’ve seen the reports in the papers. Clearly he wouldn’t be welcome at Highbury in the future.” You don’t say.
Sylvester Stallone – Everton
Planet Hollywood founder and Everton director Robert Earl convinced Sly/Rocky/Rambo what have you to come out onto the pitch waving a Toffees scarf before a 1-1 draw with Reading in 2007. That may read a bit like they’d scheduled the match to be a 1-1 draw, but clearly that was not the case.
Stallone claimed to have been swayed to fanship by the 30,000 or so Goodison Park crowd chanting “Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!” and indeed he wore the scarf at the premiere of the sixth Rocky film soon afterwards. He was also spotted wearing it while “shopping in Paris for women’s shoes”. The more you know, eh?
Kobe Bryant, Samuel L Jackson and Dr Dre – Liverpool
Despite being described as “a shameless Barcelona fan”, NBA megastar Bryant has attested to supporting Liverpool in his younger days. Yer man Jackson became a Red after filming The 51st State in the city – why, here he is holding up a replica shirt – while G-Funk master Dre gave this scarcely believable interview to the Anfield club’s official magazine in 2001. In it he explained:
Back in 1988 I was in London on a promotional tour with NWA, and one night we were watching TV and these cool cats in red came on the box. They whupped some poor dudes four or five zip.
Michael Jackson – Exeter City
Jacko was made an honorary director of the Grecians after the visiting the club in 2002 at the behest of his friend and co-director Uri Geller. The eminent spoon-bender – who has also been known to support Reading – said: “”When I asked him what does he know about football he said, ‘Absolutely nothing but I love Exeter City.” You may find that more than a little far-fetched, but here’s a photo of Michael with an Exeter City scarf anyroad.
Elton John – Watford
He only owned the Hornets…
Tom Hanks, Prince William and David Cameron – Aston Villa
…and not a single one of them a Brummie. Hanks has said, “I know a good football match when I see one. Years ago I was watching TV, a pretty good game with Aston Villa and I thought, ‘I like that name and those colours.’ Anybody can root for Chelsea for God’s sake!”, and the superactor watched Villa win a penalty shootout against Portland Timbers in a pre-season friendly. He even recording this message…
…while the Prime Minister’s uncle Sir William Dugdale was the club’s chairman in the late ’70s. The heir to the throne, meanwhile, justified his predilection for Villa thusly: “It’s kind of in the middle of the country, isn’t it?” How very diplomatic. And he’s got a Villa beanie.
Will Smith – Lazio
The erstwhile Fresh Prince stayed at the same Beijing hotel as Lazio, who were in the Chinese capital for an Italian Supercup match. During last summer’s Euros, Smith said:
Well I am fond of Lazio. I still remember when I went to Beijing to accompany my son Jaden to promote the remake of Karate Kid. While there, at the hotel, I found myself in the middle of the Biancocelesti players. It was a blast. I basically experienced my first real contact with football at the Italian Super Cup and Inter-Lazio was a searing touch. What emotions. I was struck by an unlikely friendship at that point and I keep the shirts of Tommaso Rocchi Julio Cruz which they gave me . From then on I love the sport … and I asked Beckham to teach me to play because he lived in Los Angeles for several years.
Justin Timberlake – Manchester United
Apparently he met former Red Devils centre-forward-cum-midfielder Alan Smith at the Lowery Hotel in Manchester. Timberlake went to see them lose against West Ham United, after which he may well have not responded to gloating texts from Barack Obama and Katy Perry.
Barack Obama and Katy Perry – West Ham United
The President apparently visited Upton Park with a London-based friend in 2004 and was more recently presented with a “special edition” Irons shirt bearing the name and number Obama 1 – in the end, though, Sam Allardyce plumped for Jussi Jääskeläinen (arf!). As for Perry, she was of course married to eminent Hammers fan Russell Brand – now, let’s get a picture up…
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis- Chelsea
Cameron Diaz – Brentford
Her loveliness became a regular at a Hollywood restaurant owned by former Bees chairman Dan Tana, and supposedly attended a match at Griffin Park with him along with fellow Charlie’s Angel Drew Barrymore.
Mike Tyson – Peterborough United
While in Peterborough as part of a promotional UK tour, the former world champion heavyweight boxer donned a Posh top at London Road prior to a friendly against Barack Obama’s West Ham in 2010.
Can you think of any other unlikely celebrity football fans? Have your say in the comments section below…