By: Newsroom Staff on 20 Apr, 2017 09:44
HE’S back for an encore. James McAvoy, Celtic fan and one of the world’s top actors, will lead the line of non-football stars to feature in Celtic FC Foundation’s end of season charity match at Paradise on May 28.
The Glasgow actor has worked with the best in the business, garnering a host of ‘medals’, including Olivier and Golden Globe nominations and London Standard and Bafta best acting awards but says there is something special about a performance at Paradise.
He said: “I have played at Celtic Park just the once. That alone would have been a dream come true but to stand on the pitch again, never mind play there, is a supreme privilege.”
As his career has soared through brilliant performances in films such as Atonement, the X-Men series and Filth, James has remained a dedicated Celtic fan.
He said of Henrik and Lubo: “They came in unheralded and became two of our finest who could have played anywhere and for anyone. They also proved, along with Neil Lennon, to be my favourite players.”
James has worked with directors such as Danny Boyle and M Night Shyamalan, but how does that compare to pulling on the boots beside Henrik and Lubo and going out to face a crowd without a script?
“It's the same as acting, to be honest,” he said. “You could let nerves get the better of you but then you wouldn’t enjoy it.
“As long as you're not trying to look cool or be the best, you can enjoy it for what it is. That is, a guy who cannae play getting to play at Paradise. It’s win, win.”
A graduate of the RSAMD in Glasgow (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), James was born and bred in the city and has enjoyed a lifelong attachment to the club. He celebrates his 38th birthday this month but appreciates and honours the achievements of the Lisbon Lions and the glory of 1967 long before his birth.
“The Lions are a statement of local determination and a monument to local talent,” he said. “Who knows when we'll see that kind of group dynamic again. We'll always be the first British team to win it. It’s a gift we can always be proud of.”
The match is being played in aid of Celtic FC Foundation and James is a dedicated supporter of its work.
He said: “It is fundamental to the founding and continuing legacy of a club started with a charitable purpose. It’s part of the club’s DNA and should grow and grow in my opinion.”
The silver-screen Bhoy will feature alongside Celtic fans and fellow actors Martin Compston, Ross McCall, Gianni Capaldi, Gerard Miller and Tony Curran.
Line of Duty star, Martin Compston, is excited about the prospect of a Paradise return. He said: “I pinch myself. Every time you play there, afterwards you feel it is not real. One of the great moments came after the Stan Petrov game. Watching and hearing You’ll Never Walk Alone that day and feeling part of that is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Port Glasgow Bhoy, Ross McCall has worked with stars such as Bob Hoskins, Michael Caine and Jeremy Irons but he knows the script when it comes to following Celtic and is looking forward to being on the pitch with Henrik and Lubo. He added: “They are so ingrained in Celtic's history, it's impossible to pick just one moment that stands out. Undoubtedly they are two of our finest players to ever pull on the Hoops.”
Gianni Capaldi is not only looking forward to pulling on the Hoops and impressing his baby daughter, Trinity Grace, but he’s also proud to be supporting the work of Celtic FC Foundation. He said: “From sporting dinners, charity walks, football games, golf days out, you name it, they're trying their best to raise awareness and funds to ease people's suffering in life. It makes you feel very, very proud as a supporter of Celtic Football Club to know about the work Celtic FC Foundation do.”
Gerard Miller, who has starred in Macbeth and River City, has recently spent time supporting a host of young people through Celtic FC Foundation’s employability projects and can’t wait for his Paradise debut: He said: “The biggest star I have worked with is Michael Fassbender on Macbeth and that was an amazing experience. But for me playing at Celtic Park will be a dream come true and I can't explain how much it will mean.”
The match will see the return of Henrik Larsson and Lubo Moravcik and to date an additional 18 former Celtic players including Stiliyan Petrov, Neil Lennon, John Hartson and - most recently - Artur Boruc have already been confirmed.
More than 53,000 tickets have been snapped up with the Foundation set to invest the proceeds into local projects and dementia projects as well as building 67 kitchens across the third world in partnership with Mary’s Meals.
Tony Hamilton, Celtic FC Foundation’s Chief Executive, added: “The Celtic supporters have responded magnificently and to be so close to a capacity 60,000 crowd with more than a month to go is a credit to all of them.
“The former players have been tremendous too and for stars from other walks of life, who are genuine Celtic supporters, to want to play in this match is great news for Celtic FC Foundation and for the projects we’re about to work on with the money we raise."
Sponsored by Dafabet and Utilita, Henrik’s Heroes versus Lubo’s Legends will take place at Celtic Park on Sunday, May 28, 2017, with a 2pm KO.
Tickets are on general sale, on a first come first served basis – maximum of 10 per person - priced at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions*.
Tickets are available to purchase online at www.celticfc.net, by calling 0871 226 1888** or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office. Rail Seating does not apply to this match.
Premium tickets (£30) and corporate packages (£135) are also available by calling 0871 226 1888** (Option 4) or emailing [email protected]
* Concessions 65+/Under 16s.
** Calls cost 13p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. Booking fees apply online and via our sales line.