Belfast Telegraph

Robbie fears 'hard man' Nicky

Singer Robbie Williams has told of his shock to discover clean-cut Westlife star Nicky Byrne plays dirty on the football pitch.

The Take That star returns to Manchester's Old Trafford football ground on Sunday, for Soccer Aid, the celebrity football match he founded, which has already raised millions of pounds for charity Unicef.

Williams captains the all-star England team - which includes comedians Jack Whitehall and John Bishop, Take That's Mark Owen and True Blood actor Stephen Moyer - to take on the Rest of the World team, captained by Welsh actor Micheal Sheen and counting Westlife's Byrne, Scottish actor James McAvoy and Australian star Sam Worthington among its numbers.

Williams, who will be on the bench this year due to injury, recalled how he had been taken by surprise by Byrne at the last Soccer Aid.

The Sing When You're Winning star revealed: "The last game I played in, Nicky Byrne was on the wing and I was at left back. And you know that thing you do at the start of the game where you just go 'I'm here'. I thought I'd do a bit of that - and he hit me! And I thought 'Oh! he's here!'

"So Nicky Byrne can put in a good tackle. I didn't expect that - I'm bigger than him, I thought I'd just go over and scare him a bit - he terrified me.

"So Nicky Byrne's scrappy and obviously James McAvoy's scrappy.

"But on side we've got the Shepher-nator - Ben Shepherd. He's a gentleman thug."

Comedian John Bishop agreed the Good Morning Britain presenter was their secret weapon.

"He's a wolf in sheep's clothing."

:: Soccer Aid 2014: The Countdown airs on ITV on Friday, June 6, followed by Soccer Aid 2014 on Sunday, June 8

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