Rock legend Rod Stewart has finally hung up his football boots at the age of 69 – so he can avoid getting injured before his Lancashire concert this summer.
Ardent Celtic fan Rod, who has played football all his life, went out on a high – with a narrow 3-2 win which saw his Sunday League side, based in LA, reach fourth in their league.
“It was beginning to impinge on my work playing on a Sunday, then having to go and play a concert at Vegas in the evening,” he said.
“But I’ve had a great run. I’ve played all my life. The lads gave me a good send off. And now I’m assistant coach to the assistant coach!”
Does that mean that he fancies himself as an Alex Ferguson in the future? “Stay in the background and keep poking my nose in?” he jokes.
The superstar’s return to songwriting with his album Time, after two decades, has been a massive hit – and it forms the heart of his five date tour across the UK this summer.
The tour starts at Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium on June 13 and brings him to at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, on June 20.
He follows that with a performance at Premier League Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium on June 14.
The three venues are the biggest of the five date UK tour, which also includes concerts in Taunton, on June 18, and Falkirk, on June 21.
The Celtic fan is always eager to talk football. He loves the fact all Premier League matches are on the television in LA.
And he’s backing former Celtic player and fellow Scot David Moyes to be a success at Manchester United.
“I think they’ve turned the corner. I wouldn’t write them off,” he said.
“And of course, David Moyes is a former Celtic player. He seems a nice fella and I hope it works out for him.”
He also admits that he enjoys watching United’s “noisy neighbours” City. “I like their approach to the game, they play some amazing football,” he added.
The album has an autobiographical feel to it – and there’s also a sense of returning to the early days of his career in the venues he’s chosen.
Speaking at his home in LA he said: “I really am surprised how well the album’s done. It got to number one. It’s competing.
“It’s an amazing success and it has given me great confidence. I’m starting to look at a follow-up to it as we speak.”
Tickets for his summer UK tour have been selling fast. And he’s looking forward to the five concerts at four football stadium venues and a cricket ground. His fans are already counting down to the big kick off.
Rod explained the thinking behind the tour. He said: “It’s because the album’s so successful. There’s a demand for me to be there and it is great to play smaller places, though they’re not exactly small venues.
“I tend to go to the same places every year, Manchester, Glasgow, London, it’s nice to mix it up and go to other places.
“It’s what I do and I love doing it. It’s my job and I’m just loving it. I’m smiling all over the place when I’m up there. It’s a wonderful way to earn a shilling.”
The venues chosen this summer have also brought back memories of Rod’s early days as a musician, days when he toured the country in vans working to make it to the big time.
One track, ‘Brighton Beach’, is an emotional love song about his time on the south coast as a teenager.
His last performance in Brighton was in November 1986. While he last rocked Blackpool and Stoke in December 1974, with legendary group the Faces.
Rod added: “I remember playing Stoke with Long John Baldry like it was yesterday. There’s a track on the album about Brighton and what that place means to me, I spent a lot of my teenager years there.”
He is still keen for a Faces reunion, though it is proving a little tricky. Keyboard player Ian McLagan has said he wants a Small Faces celebration first.
Rod said: “Ronnie’s in Australia with the Stones and I’m doing what I’m doing here.
“We talked about trying to leave the year 2015 free. We can’t leave it too much longer.”
Rod also expresses his admiration for some – but not all – of today’s musical artists.
“I like all sorts of music. At this stage of the game, it is difficult to be influenced by it. I was influenced by all the great blues artists.
“I’ve great admiration for ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – it was one of the bravest and most beautiful songs written in the last 15 years.
“I also like John Newman, he is very good. There is some good stuff out there, but there’s still a lot of crap out there. The good stuff always rises to the surface.”
For details of how to book for Rod’s summer tour, please visit www.ticketline.co.uk or call 0844 888 9991.