Damian Lewis loves football. He regularly plays for Anvil FC, an amateur football team in King’s Cross, and has taken part in several charity football matches including the celebrated Soccer Aid. Our guy shares in a recent interview with The Evening Standard he sees the sport as a form of therapy:
“I enjoy the total absorption in a white ball and 10 other guys and the focus, and the way it releases everything else from your mind. It’s brilliant, it’s the best occupational therapy I can think of. You run around and get fit and it releases any anger or tension that you have. I used to play at 7.30 on Thursday mornings in New York. I’d haul myself out of bed, even if I’d had a night shoot that finished at 2am and go and play. I love it.”
Well, I cannot agree with him more because I feel the same about running and swimming, particularly the “it releases any anger or tension you have” part. And we cannot be happier Damian will be playing the game he loves for a wonderful cause this weekend: Game for Grenfell is a charity football match organized by former football stars Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand “to raise funds and inspire hope for those affected” in the devastating Grenfell Tower fire that caused at least 80 deaths and over 70 injuries.
This game is very special thanks to its beautiful cause, but it is extra special for me thanks to one of its organizers: Les Ferdinand is one of my football heroes!
Ferdinand is the current football coach and director of football at Queens Park Rangers (QPR), a football club that is physically very close to Grenfell Tower that one can see the ground from the tower and vice versa. He had a long and successful football career in which he played for Besiktas in Turkey, Newcastle, Tottenham, West Ham, Leicester, Bolton and Reading. YES! Ferdinand came to Besiktas, the Turkish football team that I have supported all my life, on loan from Queens Park Rangers as a 21 year old young striker… And what a year it was! Ferdinand scored 14 goals that season, became a football idol for Besiktas fans and contributed to Besiktas winning the Turkish Cup! I know I have every single goal he scored still on VHS somewhere at my mom’s house and that every Besiktas fan vividly remembers the goal he scored against Fenerbahce — Schumacher was the goal keeper, no less! And I love it that he says his time in Turkey did not only make him a better player but a better man. Thank you, Ferdinand.
While Game for Grenfell will start at 3pm UK time at QPR’s Loftus Road, Sky1 and Freeview Channel Pick will start their TV coverage earlier at 2pm featuring the players special guests as well as those affected by the tragedy. Here in the US and elsewhere, we just depend on our friends in the UK to help us see a bit or two online and keep our fingers crossed the match somehow pops up on YouTube 😀 We will update Fan Fun gallery with pictures from the game as soon as they are available online.
Now, we got word Team Ferdinand has one ginger player that can do wonders on a football field! 😀 Damian has just invited everyone to come see the game if they can…
Game for Grenfell Loftus Road 3pm Saturday 2nd. Legends and muppets (I'm one of the muppets). Come pay for a ticket and help heal….
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) September 1, 2017
…and he may call himself a muppet but then again he is OUR muppet. Wanna know a bit more about Damian’s love for football?
When asked about what he is watching on TV at Times Talks London; Damian first gives us the usual suspects, including Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones; then adds that on top of his recording list is ALWAYS Match of the Day. And many thanks go to Bookworm for reminding me of a Homeland Fun Fact about Match of the Day! Well, remember the scene in Homeland Pilot where Carrie notices Brody’s almost jazz like finger tapping…
…it turns out Damian is finger tapping to Match of the Day tune there. You can hear the story from the man himself on the Commentary for the Pilot on Homeland Season 1 DVD and even hear Damian humming the tune for Claire 😀
Damian Lewis LOVES his footie!
Damian is a Londoner and currently lives in north London that puts him geographically in the Arsenal zone. But he does not root for the home team.
He roots for Liverpool.
Damian and I are only a year apart — me being one year his junior. This means we were kids at the same time in different countries with completely different cultures… But when it comes to football… In particular, if you live in a country where football is LIFE, say, in England where Damian grew up, or, say, in Turkey where I grew up, football fans speak the same language! I don’t have a clue about how Damian became a Liverpool fan, but I have a pretty educated guess!
My dad was a football fanatic. He did not only follow the Turkish league very closely, but also the European leagues and championships. And, in late 1970s, there was one football club that had constant presence in our living room: LIVERPOOL.
The club had a legendary manager, Bob Paisley who led Liverpool through a period of unprecedented domestic and European dominance, winning twenty major honors in nine seasons: six League Championships, three League Cups, six Charity Shields, three European Cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup. They simply won EVERYTHING.
My dad liked Liverpool, and easily recruited me as a fan. We cheered for the team together… That’s why Liverpool is always a reminder of warm childhood memories for me… As I grew up, I found out about other things about Liverpool, the city, that made me love it even more: Liverpool is a working class city which is close to my politics, and it gave the Beatles to the world, which is close to my heart. I have always had a soft spot for Liverpool.
It turns out, so has Damian… Well… If you were a young kid in 1970s seeing this fantastic football team with brilliant players sweeping all championships and cups in Britain as well as across Europe year after year after year, why would you go and support some other team? THAT’S WHY, I believe, Damian, me, and many children of our generation were all fascinated by the success of Liverpool and became fans!
And, now, Damian, exactly like my dad did 35+ years ago, wants to recruit young fans for his team… like his son! Here’s the sweetest story in an interview with the Independent:
“Well we live in north London and our local team is Arsenal… And my wife, when I was filming in America – and I take great pleasure in making this public – went to the Emirates and bought my son an Arsenal strip. She doesn’t even support Arsenal. I said, ‘What are you playing at? You’ve crossed a line – a boy and father’s rite of passage, going on their first trip together.”
The actor is a die-hard Liverpool fan. Given his own personal allegiance he clearly has not been coping well with the thought of his son Gulliver in an Arsenal shirt. Can Lewis bear to let his son support the local team?
“You know what, I’m in two minds about that… I did say, ‘he’s got a birthday coming up, so I’m going to buy him a Liverpool strip as well, so he’s got both,’ and she said, ‘oh well, that’s just confusing. You’re going to play guilt-trips on your son; he’s going to want to wear one to please one parent and the other one to please the other parent’.”
HILARIOUS! But, hey, a tweet from Damian in January confirms dad has been successful in his efforts to recruit Gully to Liverpool 🙂
Aaaaghh! Liverpool!!! Just watched it with my distraught 9 yr old son. Title gone.Tweeted more today than I have in a year so I'm off…
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) January 21, 2017
Besides, father and son attended Liverpool – Tottenham match on February 11, 2017 – a wonderful birthday celebration for Damian – at Anfield and got to meet Liverpool goal keeper Simon Mignolet, too. Or, as the tweet below says, Mignolet got to meet the two of them 🙂