A Symphonic Eleven
“Freedom! Football is freedom!”….Bob Marley
From Colombian pop-star to famous bassist of British metal band, Italian opera legend to Jamaican reggae icon, all love football. Here, Arghya Lahiri will give you eleven such symphonic names that are famous for their musical exploits but are also connected through another love, rather passion, football.
Great vocalist and key member of the legendary British rock group Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant has been a fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers or Wolves football club for last 61 years. In the 70s, he was offered the position of the director at Wolves but he refused that offer as he did not feel ‘comfortable’. In the early 80s, he was also linked with a takeover of the club. In 2009, he was named as the vice-president of the club.
Few months after Jody Craddock (played for wolves for ten seasons) announced his retirement in 2013, Robert Plant bid and paid 900 pounds for a chance to play in the testimonial match. The match was held in 2014 between veterans of Sunderland (Craddock played six seasons there) and Wolverhampton. Craddock’s youngest son was a patient at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for leukemia at that time and the proceeds were donated towards his treatment. On the cover of Plant’s 1988 album Now and Zen, there was a wolf motif which is very similar to the badge of the club.
This famous pop singer was not a football fan in her childhood. Her association with FIFA, especially for her 2010 world cup theme song ‘waka waka’ where she collaborated with Freshlyground, attracted her to the game. Her subsequent relationship with FC Barcelona’s Spanish star Gerard Pique brought her closer to the beautiful game.
She is often found in the stadium watching FC Barcelona matches with her child. A bamboo version of her song ‘Hips Don’t Lie’, collaborated with Wyclef Jean, was the official theme of FIFA World Cup 2006. She also performed in the kick-off and closing ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Again in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, she performed at the closing ceremony.
Grammy and Oscar winner young British singer Adele is a Tottenham Hotspur fan from her childhood. Even after becoming a celebrated singer, she was spotted watching matches of Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham Hotspur club sent her a number 8 jersey with her name printed over it and signed by then no 8 jersey holder Scott Parker after Adele won eight Grammy Awards.
The great Opera singer ‘Il Maestro’ Pavarotti became a popular name around the world when he performed as a member of the group Three Tenors in the concert of the 1990 FIFA World Cup. His rendition of Nessun Dorma which was used as BBC’s theme song of World Cup, became very popular. Three Tenors later performed in three consecutive concerts celebrating the football World Cup, 1994 USA, 1998 France (Three Tenors sang ‘you will never walk alone’) and 2002 Japan and South Korea.
Pavarotti wanted to be a footballer like many Italians and used to play as a goalkeeper in his home town Modena. But afterwards he took up the career of an opera singer. All through his life, he was a die-hard Juventus supporter. Juventus fans and club authorities paid homage to the great singer by displaying club flags at his funeral.
Sir Elton John
Famous British musician Elton John’s love for the game and his favourite club is an extraordinary story. He started supporting Watford from early childhood and it completed a full circle when Watford named a stand in the Vicarage Road stadium after his name in 2014. He became the Chairman of the club in 1976, poured a lot of money, appointed Graham Taylor as the manager and helped promote the club from Fourth to First Division in just seven years. He sold Watford in 1987 and purchased it again in 1997. Later he resigned from this chair but remained president. In 2005 and 2010, Sir Elton held concerts at Vicarage ground to help fund the club.
And in 2008, he resigned as a president but he remains a die-hard Watford fan till date. In late 70s, Sir Elton was also the part owner of Los Angeles Aztecs of North American Soccer League.
Bassist, lyricist and founder member of the British Metal band Iron Maiden, Steve Harris is not just a fan of football or West Ham United, he could even have ended up playing for them. At the age of 14, when he used to play for Melbourn Sports and Bearmont Youth, he was scouted by the famous West Ham scout Wally St. Pier. The enigmatic, whimsical psychology of an artist probably overpowered the footballing instincts. He was not very fond of the disciplined, regimental life of a footballer.
His love for the game was indelible. He can still vividly remember old matches of West Ham or England. His favourite match was against Sunderland which the Hammers won by 8-0 with Geoff Hurst scoring 6 goals. He often takes part in different friendly or charity football matches across Europe for different teams (like Iron Maiden FC, Old England etc.). Even his bass guitar is adorned with the West Ham club emblem.
Now here comes a man who has a sound playing background. So far Julio has released songs in fourteen languages. Eight times he has been nominated for Grammy, winning it in 1988 in the Best Latin Pop Performance category for his album Un Hombre Solo. Keeping aside his musical brilliance which is world famous; not everyone is aware of the fact that he was a professional footballer who used to play for Real Madrid Castilla (the B team of Real Madrid) as a goalkeeper. He had shared the campus with players like Ramon Grosso and Manuel Velzquez. Julio always had a dream to play at the Bernabeu but a car accident at the age of 20 severely damaged his lower spine and finished his football career prematurely. Unfortunate indeed; but then probably we would not have got the composer Julio. Such is the irony of life, where something unfortunate often leads to something else that is special!
During his treatment his closest nurse Eladio gave him a guitar and it changed the direction of his life. Julio Follows Spanish football regularly. Few years ago he said in an interview that he wanted to see Messi in Real Madrid. And about goalkeepers his view is quite philosophical. Once he said “The goalkeepers have the characters especially one who is able to stand again and again without joy, nobody next to share it.”
This iconic figure, whose name is synonymous with the musical genre reggae, was a huge fan of football. He wanted to play football everywhere – inside recording studios, backstage, during sound-check. Often, when there wasn’t anyone around to play with, he played alone. Everywhere he toured, he asked others to play with him, be it professional footballers or journalists, fellow musicians of the band Wailers or the band’s manager.
He appointed famous Jamaican footballer Alan Cole as his tour manager. Bob was a fan of Pele and Brazilian club Santos. Once he said “If you want to get to know me, you will have to play football against me and the Wailers.”
This famous composer of the 20th century classical music was behind fifteen symphonies, six concertos, one piano quintet, two piano trios, two string octets, three ballets, 35 film scores. He was tagged as an ‘enemy of the people’ during Stalin regime. Outlined by Film director Aleksandr Ivanovsky, Shostakovich wrote a ballet named Zolotoy Vek (The Golden Age or The Age of Gold). The story was about a Soviet football team, the symbol of vibrant USSR and its philosophy, who travelled to a bourgeois town of a capitalist country Faschland to take part in an industrial exhibition.
You won’t find many ballets where few main characters belonged to a football team. It was not a strange case as his another love was football and this great musician was a qualified football referee too. He was a supporter of the club Zenit Leningrad (now St. Petersburg ) and often was in the stadium to support them. Quite a few times football matches were mentioned in his personal letters to relatives and friends. One of his famous quotes was “football is the ballet of the masses”.
“Football is the ballet of the masses” – Shostakovich
Sir Mick Jagger
The Rolling Stones frontman Mick’s association with football is a hilarious story. He has become a cursed figure to the supporters of different teams. In the 1998 World Cup, he was in St. Etiene stadium to watch that now (in)famous Argentina-England match and supported England. England lost that match in a penalty shoot-out. In 2010 he supported USA against Ghana and was present in the stadium. Again USA lost the game. Then he supported Brazil against Netherlands and he was present at the England-Germany match. Everywhere the end result was same. In 2014, he predicted Italy’s win against Uruguay when he was in Rome. He was wrong again. He was with his Brazilian wife at the Germany-Brazil semifinal match. Well, you know what happened that day.
The whole Jagger family supports Arsenal and Jagger himself attends Arsenal matches whenever he gets time.
Rod is a supporter of Scotland national team and Celtic F.C., but this London born Scottish singer also has a weakness for Manchester United as they had few Scotts in the 70s.He got a chance in the junior team of Brentford F.C. when he was a teenager but left very quickly as he could not sustain the hard life of a junior player. He tries not to miss any Scotland match and also passionately watches the Scottish Premier League.
Such was his passion for the Scotland national team, once he invaded the Wembley football pitch with other Scottish supporters in 1977 after Scotland defeated England 1-0, celebrating with no gay abandon. Even in 2012, he was seen crying tears of joy like a child in the gallery after Barcelona was beaten by Celtic in a group stage match of Champions League. In his shows, Rod often kicks an autographed football into the crowd from the stage.
Now let’s give this team a formation. My favourite formation is 4-3-3. So I want my symphonic eleven to look like this.
If you like to field this team with a different formation, please share yours with us.
Featured image source – Rolling Stone