Belfast Telegraph

Stars join charity football match

A host of celebrities and footballers past and present have pulled their boots on for charity.

A special match pitched a mix of former Celtic players and famous fans, led by former captain Paul McStay, against a side organised by Rio Ferdinand.

Unicef, War Child, the Celtic Foundation and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation were among the charities to benefit from the match, which finished 3-2 to Celtic in front of a crowd of around 25,000.

Actor James McAvoy, One Direction singer Louis Tomlinson and comedian Jack Whitehall were among the famous faces taking part, while retired footballers Gianfranco Zola, Paul Scholes, John Hartson and Stiliyan Petrov were also involved.

Ferdinand, who currently plays for Queens Park Rangers, said he was delighted to take part in the game and raise money for charity.

He said: "It's for a good cause and I knew the people of Scotland would turn out, I think seeing Paul McStay come back was a big thing for fans and I understood that

"Some people in the entertainment industry and the sports industry undersell themselves a bit, I'm of the mind that you've got to use the leverage you can (to help charity).

"There were plenty of kids in the crowd and hopefully they'll come out with a bit more knowledge of the charities we're trying to support, which are for kids as well."

X-men star McAvoy, who grew up in Glasgow as a Celtic fan, was delighted to score a penalty during the match.

He said: "I'm just glad I stayed on my feet. Sometimes you can get that nervous way but I wasn't nervous at all and just kept my head down. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, what an honour.

"I know first-hand the work of some of the charities, which is maximum impact with minimum money, so it's great to support them and I suppose it doesn't really matter if I play bad at the end of the day when we're raising money, in saying that, I scored a goal at Celtic Park so I'm quite chuffed really."

Singer Tomlinson was playing in his second charity game at Celtic Park and every time he touched the ball he was greeted by screams from the crowd.

He told Celtic TV: "It's great, when we first started as a band we did our first few gigs in Scotland so I know how good the fans are.

"I got a text asking me to play with the line-up and I was like 'yeah, of course, that sounds incredible'."

The One Direction member hopes the match will raise a good total for the charities.

"If people can give anything, it's better than nothing and it's very fulfilling as a person to know that you're giving something back, so hopefully people give all they can."

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