Soccer Aid 2021 at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium beckons for Leyland's freestyle football champion Liv Cooke as she's in the all-star squad

It takes a lot to make the talented 22-year-old nervous - but the thought of lacing up her boots to team up with Manchester United legends might just do it.

By Jenny Simpson
Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 4:58 pm
Liv Cooke with Manchester United ace Juan Mata
Liv Cooke with Manchester United ace Juan Mata

Liv is a hero to the millions of fans who follow her on Instagram and Tiktok - and now she is preparing to play alongside some of her own heroes like Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.

Liv is taking part in Soccer Aid 2021 at the Etihad on Saturday September 4 - and she's excited to be in the all-star squad after missing out on pitch time at the 2020 charity event at Old Trafford due to an injury.

“I remember last year walking into the changing room and seeing Wayne Rooney just there,” she says.

Liv Cooke shows off her freestyle football skills

“It felt so normal at the time, which was weird.

"It was only when I got ho me afterwards that I was like ‘Oh my God...that was Wayne Rooney!’

“Rumour has it this time around if I am playing in my position I will be marking Patrice Evra which is pretty crazy - I feel like I’m not going to get the ball!

“But I am looking forward to it - seeing these people up close will be insane.

Thousands of fans are expected at the Etihad to cheer on the England team as they take on a World side which includes Usain Bolt, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos, and Soccer Aid, which raises money for Unicef.

That won’t phase Liv, who has been used to performing in front of crowds as freestyle footballer since she was a teen.

Liv still practises up to five hours a day to perfect her craft - but she’s also keen to show her online fans clips of when things don’t go to plan too, as she’s conscious of her status as a role model to young fans.

“Freestyle is a lifestyle - it’s not something you do part-time,” she emphasises.

“(Tricks) that are easy for me now are only because I have done this for hours a day every day for seven years.

“So when I am posting these new tricks in videos I like to follow up with a video that shows how many times I’ve failed, how I’ve got frustrated.

“Then (fans) can see how I’ve tried and failed til I’ve got it.”

Things like that are really important to me. When I say to them you can achieve your dreams, it resonates a bit more if I have achieved my dreams and I’m happy.

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“It’s one thing saying to people (on social media), ‘look at this, look at how great I am’ - I don’t really want that. When I am sat in my Lamborghini, I want them to know that they can have it too because I came from nothing, from a small town with a normal family. If I can do it so can they. Anything I can achieve, they can achieve too.”

Liv is also a savvy businesswoman who has written a book and presented various TV shows.

Lockdown in the pandemic put the brakes on the usual international travel with her role as an UEFA ambassador - but she didn’t rest on her laurels, instead using her free time to set up two property businesses.

The next thing on her horizon is to bag a sixth world record in her sport.

“I always need a crazy project to be dedicated to,” she laughs. “I live for this, I love learning.

“People say ‘you work too much’. I don’t work too much: I love what I do. I thrive off it and I am going to keep pushing.”