Soccer Aid for UNICEF players including Usain Bolt, Niall Horan, Jamie Redknapp and Sir Mo Farah joined more than 250 guests for a star-studded gala tonight at the Science Museum in South Kensington, raising a staggering £425,000 to support Unicef’s vital work protecting children in danger around the world.

The superstars and footballing legends descended on London’s Science Museum for the first ever Soccer Aid for Unicef Gala, hosted by Mark Wright. The evening featured an interactive football themed reception, complete with a real grass ‘green carpet’ and walkthrough player tunnel. Guests were also treated to exclusive performances from Robbie Williams and world freestyle football sensation, Ben Nuttall.

As part of his performance, Robbie Williams announced live on stage Sir Mo Farah will be this year’s captain of the England team, much to the surprise of Sir Mo himself, who was delighted to accept the captain’s armband.

Actor and Soccer Aid for Unicef England goalkeeper, David Harewood spoke to guests about his recent trip with Unicef UK to Sierra Leone, where he saw first-hand how Unicef programmes are improving child health, early childhood development and education in vulnerable communities. The film from David’s trip will also be shown on Soccer Aid for Unicef live on ITV from 6.30pm on Sunday evening.

David Harewood said: "I, along with all the other players here, cannot wait for the next few days ahead. I’m sure there will be a lot of laughs, some great friendships made and hopefully not too many goals scored past me by the Soccer Aid World XI team!

“But this match is so much more – it brings the whole nation together to help children around the world grow up happy, healthy and able to play. We are all here to focus on the real stars of Soccer Aid for Unicef and how everyone’s support tonight could change a child’s life forever.

“Recently I had the privilege of traveling to Sierra Leone with Unicef to see the incredible work they do to support children around the world. With your help this evening, we are hoping to raise as much money as possible. Tonight, we have the power to make a real difference to millions of children’s lives.”

People pledged their support for Soccer Aid for Unicef at a money-can’t-buy auction, which included a chance to win the ultimate ‘Three Lions Experience’ with tickets to England’s Euro 2020 qualifier match against Bulgaria and the opportunity to meet the whole team alongside Gareth Southgate. Guests also had the chance to bid on some Sir Mo Farah and Usain Bolt signed boots.

The money raised from the Soccer Aid for Unicef Gala will be matched by the UK government, doubling the difference made to children’s lives, helping them to be happy, healthy, and able to play.

This year’s Soccer Aid for Unicef match returns to London for the first time in over a decade, taking place at the iconic Stamford Bridge Stadium. The game will see two teams of celebrities and ex-professionals go head-to-head on Sunday 16th June live on ITV and STV.

Names signed up for the England squad include legends Michael Owen, Joe Cole, and – for the first time ever – female players Katie Chapman and Rachel Yankey, and celebrities Sir Mo Farah, Mark Wright, and Danny Jones, all under the watchful eye of co-managers Susanna Reid and Sam Allardyce. Taking them on are the Soccer Aid World XI, with players so far announced including legends Didier Drogba, Eric Cantona, and Robert Pires, and stars Usain Bolt, Niall Horan, and Martin Compston, taking their orders from Harry Redknapp and Piers Morgan.

Soccer Aid for Unicef is defending play for every child. The monies raised will go towards Unicef’s vital work protecting children in danger around the world. £30 million has already been raised by Soccer Aid for Unicef since its inception in 2006.

Soccer Aid for Unicef will be broadcast live on ITV and STV, and is produced by Initial. Visit www.socceraid.org.uk to find out more and follow @SoccerAid on Twitter and Instagram, ‘Soccer Aid’ on Facebook and use the hashtag #SoccerAid for regular player and match updates.

Tickets for Soccer Aid for Unicef 2019 – on Sunday 16th June, at Stamford Bridge – are available now at www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets/ or by calling 020 7386 2019. Doors open from 4.30pm.

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