Olly Murs has told of his joy at being able to return for Soccer Aid 2020 after missing last year’s game due to undergoing knee surgery.
The singer-songwriter, who has taken part in Soccer Aid five times, will make his comeback as the captain of the England squad for this year’s charity football match for Unicef on June 6 at Old Trafford.
However, he has said that he does not expect to be at his best on the pitch having gone under the knife to repair ligament damage on his knee last summer.
Murs will be joined by celebrities including Danny Jones, Joel Dommett, Lee Mack, Tom Davis and Russell Howard on the England side.
The England team will be managed by Sam Allardyce and will also include former Lionesses Casey Stoney and Kelly Smith, marking the second year the tournament has included female players.
They will hope to reclaim the title from last year’s winners, the World XI team, which so far consists of Usain Bolt, Kem Cetinay, Mo Gilligan, Patrice Evra, Jaap Stam and Roberto Carlos.
The World XI team will be managed by Harry Redknapp.
Murs told the PA news agency: “I’m very, very honoured to be invited back.
“To sit and watch Soccer Aid with my leg up last year just after I’d had surgery was hard, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
“I genuinely wanted to be there but I knew I needed to have the surgery and to have all the rehab. To be back at Soccer Aid again as the captain is great, so I’m very happy.”
He said he was worried that he would not be ready to take part in this year’s tournament.
“It was always a slight doubt, but I didn’t let it fester,” he said.
“There was always a slight doubt in my mind that you never know what will happen, like if the surgery goes wrong or something and that I might not be able to play football again.
“But I was very positive throughout, and I had a great surgeon and a great team, a physiotherapist, my trainer, and we’ve been working really hard and now, months later, I’m feeling great.”
Murs said he has not yet been back on the pitch to train, but added that he is “not far off it”.
He added: “I’m probably not going to be at my best at this Soccer Aid, but I’m determined to play well, I’m determined to get back, and of course do my bit for Unicef.”
Murs, 35, has previously played for the England team at Soccer Aid in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. In 2018, he was the England team captain.
He said he does not know who else will be part of the team, but added: “I’m excited, there have been some rumours flying around – I can’t say who, but it feels like this year is going to be one of the biggest yet.”
He added that he hopes to see some female celebrities on the pitch after the introduction of female former professional players last year.
“I’m sure there will be (female celebrities) – it was a great success last year and I’m sure it’s something Soccer Aid have been wanting to do for a long time,” he said.
Soccer Aid will air on ITV and STV and will be hosted by Dermot O’Leary, with Kirsty Gallacher returning to report pitch side.
The charity match is returning to Manchester’s Old Trafford after taking place at Stamford Bridge in London last year.
Soccer Aid for Unicef was co-founded by Robbie Williams and Jonathan Wilkes in 2006, and has raised more than £38 million for the charity.