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Soccer Aid - Where Celebrities, Charity and Football Collide

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It played out like a script from Hollywood. The small lad face to face (or chin to abs) with the six foot-plus enforcer. Mike Myers was cast as himself, set against the former captain and brick wall of the England football team's defence, Martin Keown.

In a supporting role was Will Ferrell who delivered a pass too close to Myers for him to ignore it but equally within range for Keown to reach it. The English hardman hit with a crunch tackle, flooring Myers. From the sidelines Ed Norton prepared to replace him. But Austin Powered to his feet. The crowd of 75,000 roared in appreciation.

Welcome to Soccer Aid. A remarkable event where celebrities collide - in Myers' case quite literally - with footballing legends in England's grandest club stadium, all with the singular aim of raising money for the world's most disadvantaged children.

Both sides - England XI and the Rest of the World - has its celebrity stars, and each side has its veteran footballing greats. This year the Rest of the World fielded the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Michael Sheen (with Myers, Ferrell and Norton) along with soccer greats such as Clarence Seedorf (the only player to win four European Cups with three different teams), Argentinian great Herman Crespo and perhaps the greatest midfielder ever to call Manchester home, Irishman Roy Keane.

It was a formidable line up, and one that was confident of retaining the trophy they took two years ago when Woody Harrelson scored the winning penalty after extra time.

England came with the likes of UNICEF UK ambassador Robbie Williams, Olly Murs, and Mark Owen, alongside former England stars Teddy Sheringham, Kevin Philips, and of course Keown.

The event was televised live across the UK to an audience of millions, with the hours running up to the game filled with short films made with UNICEF Ambassadors and celebrity supporters such as Kiera Knightley and Lewis Hamilton, which explained the hardships many children face across the globe.

It was clear people were inspired both by the event and the commitment of the celebrities. "I listened to Mike Myers and Will Ferrell before the game," says Jason Farmer from Liverpool, who came to the game. "They spoke about the children this was aimed at, the children we help just by buying a ticket and being here. It's a terrific way to contribute, for me and the celebrities."

Echoing the sentiment is the UK government, who have committed to match all donations given, pound for pound. As a result, the money raised by Soccer Aid for UNICEF this year will give hope to an even larger number of the world's most vulnerable children, many of whom are suffering in the food crisis of East and West Africa. "They're feeding kids, they're educating kids, they're vaccinating kids," said Woody Harrelson. "They're an incredible organisation, and this is an incredible event."

Back on the pitch, the game may not have the pace of those normally played at the Theatre of Dreams - the affectionate moniker given to Manchester United's ground - but the quality and competitiveness is there, and there are moments of sheer brilliance in the game. The first comes when Sergio Pizzorno chips England's former number one, David Seaman, and puts the Rest of the World in front. The goal rouses England and their legendary striker, Teddy Sheringham, crudely clatters into celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay is stretchered off. Gerard Butler comes on for Joe Calzaghe. Robbie Williams enters the fray and screams of joy fill the stadium.

In the end England score two more quality goals and win the game 3-1. Ramsay recovers. And Mike Myers performs nobly and doesn't crack under the constant pressure from Keown

The thunderous cheers from the crowd continue well after the final whistle and it's clear that, despite winning, it's not the result the English crowd is applauding. Somehow their win is secondary here. Once again the announcer thanks everyone for helping so many vulnerable children. And the crowd - like the millions watching at home - sense they are part of something special. Part of an event that will touch the lives of those who need it most. A shared commitment to unite for children.

As families leave the stadium, UNICEF volunteers speak to spectators about their organisation's work, celebrities give interviews, great players soak up one last outing at the Theatre of Dreams, and I overhear a young boy speaking to his father. "This was really special dad," he says. He is very much on the money. I am very proud to say that a short while later, we at UNICEF were able to announce that we have raised £4.2million and counting....

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