Louis Tomlinson, one of the members of boy band One Direction, has made his professional soccer debut with Doncaster Rovers FC. As a child, Tomlinson worked with the team’s facility’s burger bar, but last year, upgraded to pro player for a cameo appearance with an opportunity to raise funds for his charity, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospital.
Tomlinson was actually supposed to make his debut last September during a charity game against Celtic but got knocked down while up against some of the seasoned professional players so badly that he ended up vomiting from the injury. That delayed the 1D singer’s pro debut, but Tomlinson said he felt like a young boy when he pulled on his Doncaster Rovers jersey Feb. 26.
Fans came from across the world to watch the singer take the pitch in his first professional soccer match. The Rovers are part of the Final Third Development League, and Tomlinson came on the field at the 65th minute of the game as a substitution. An audience for a Doncaster Rovers matchup usually numbers 100; there were over 5,000 in attendance at Keepmoat Stadium, and when Tomlinson took the pitch, a roar went up that was not unlike the vuvuzelas that played during South Africa’s World Cup.
Prior to One Direction singer Tomlinson’s pro soccer debut for the one game, the singer made a stop to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice to visit Harrison Elmer. One-year-old Elmer, who made a miraculous recovery from meningitis when he was only days old, was only given weeks to live, but surpassed everyone’s expectations. Tomlinson is patron of the charity supporting Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, and the Elmers are running the Bluebell Wood Colour Dash in support of the hospice.
While none of Tomlinson’s One Direction bandmates – Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles and Liam Payne – made it out to watch their colleague, Tomlinson lived his dream as he hit the pitch, though he landed on his bottom at one point when he took a kick. There was some notice given to the singer’s soccer talents, though; it would appear he can do more than sing out a few pop tunes.
Social media lit up at the news of Tomlinson hitting the pitch. Fellow singer Olly Murs, himself a soccer fan, tweeted his best wishes to Tomlinson, as did Doncaster North MP and Labour Party leader Ed Millband. Tomlinson also tweeted his excitement about donning Doncaster’s signature red and white jersey and his gratitude to the team at finally having the opportunity to play. Replicas of Tomlinson’s #28 jersey were on sale and suddenly, soccer had a whole new legion of female fans, if only for the afternoon that Tomlinson was playing.
It’s likely that the One Direction singer will not be going pro for any other soccer matches. Between touring the world and being the patron for his charity, it is quite possible that the young heartthrob will be far too busy with his One Direction colleagues, making teenage girls swoon at their pop tunes about love, for the foreseeable future.
By Christina St-Jean