Interview

My latest trick

Freestyler Liv Cooke will put her touch to the ultimate test at the Women’s Champions League final

INTERVIEW Rebecca Hopkins | PHOTOGRAPHY This fan girl & Nina Farooqi

There's nothing like putting yourself on the spot and for Liv Cooke that means trying to control a ball dropped from the roof of a stadium, with hundreds of thousands of followers watching her every move. That’s the challenge the freestyle world champion has set herself at the Women’s Champions League final in Vienna on 24 May. Do it and she will break the world record of 38.92m, set by former Liverpool and Tottenham ace Jamie Redknapp. If she fails… Well, she will have had a blast trying.

It would be nice to do it off the stadium roof but it’s finding the right height and conditions. It’s difficult. As much as I can develop my touch, there’s only so much training I can do and then the element of luck comes in. With the ball falling and the velocity, any variables like the wind can make it ten times more difficult. There’s a lot of pressure.

My PA Jamie just randomly chucks things at me in weird scenarios. He’s testing my control and reactions in the run up to the touch test. It started off just a football, then it got more extreme. He started chucking a phone and shouting, “Around the world!” He also lobbed a beer bottle at me and I did it! I don’t know why, because I’ve now got a bruise on my ankle. I’ve also had to control a plate with his breakfast leftovers on it. 

Liv Cooke has travelled across Europe promoting the women’s game

You have to be brave and it can go wrong. One thing’s for sure though: if I don’t manage to break the record in Vienna, I will get it at some point. It’s just when. I know there’s a chance I’m not going to do it, but I think that’s actually very important for people to see. There are so many messages I get insisting, “It’s not fair, you make freestyle look so easy – why’s it easy for you?” And I think doing this touch test and putting myself out there where I might fail or I might not… If people see that, then it’s going to be a lesson to them that I’m not perfect and I do attempt things. 

Learning a freestyle trick takes a lot longer than people would think. Take around the world: at first you’ll need to learn how to do kick-ups and you’ll need to practise. It can take 2,000 attempts before you manage to do one around the world. Then it’s going to take 10,000 attempts to get a bit consistent with it and another 10,000 attempts before you feel confident to do it every time. You’re going to be doing it for a while!

"NO MATTER WHAT POSITION YOU GET YOUR BODY IN, NO MATTER WHERE THE BALL IS IN RESPECT TO YOUR BODY, IF YOU HAVEN'T GOT YOUR BALANCE IN THAT POSITION THEN YOU AREN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO BALANCE THE BALL."
Liv Cooke

The better you get, the harder your next trick will be. Even for a world champion, it doesn’t get any easier learning new tricks. There’s around the world, double around the world, then triple around the world. I have done triple once but to get consistent with that could be five or six years. It’s insane. People wouldn’t even realise that.

You have to control yourself before you can control the ball. I work on my balance a hell of a lot. That’s probably one of the most important things in freestyle. No matter what position you get your body in, no matter where the ball is in respect to your body, if you haven’t got your balance in that position then you aren’t going to be able to balance the ball.

People say I should do an open training session. I’m thinking no, no, no. The world would end up hating me. I get so frustrated. You spend like six or seven years training every single day and you can do this trick, then one day it’s just not working. You do get mad. I find I end up blaming things: it’s my ball; it’s too slippy; my shoes aren’t tight enough. Things like that. I just try and take a second, reset, and think positive affirmations: “Come on, do your best.” It’s just building up my confidence in my head to really make me stand up and smile and go for it again.

Liv Cooke is a UEFA Women’s Football ambassador. See her in action @livcookefs

There's nothing like putting yourself on the spot and for Liv Cooke that means trying to control a ball dropped from the roof of a stadium, with hundreds of thousands of followers watching her every move. That’s the challenge the freestyle world champion has set herself at the Women’s Champions League final in Vienna on 24 May. Do it and she will break the world record of 38.92m, set by former Liverpool and Tottenham ace Jamie Redknapp. If she fails… Well, she will have had a blast trying.

It would be nice to do it off the stadium roof but it’s finding the right height and conditions. It’s difficult. As much as I can develop my touch, there’s only so much training I can do and then the element of luck comes in. With the ball falling and the velocity, any variables like the wind can make it ten times more difficult. There’s a lot of pressure.

My PA Jamie just randomly chucks things at me in weird scenarios. He’s testing my control and reactions in the run up to the touch test. It started off just a football, then it got more extreme. He started chucking a phone and shouting, “Around the world!” He also lobbed a beer bottle at me and I did it! I don’t know why, because I’ve now got a bruise on my ankle. I’ve also had to control a plate with his breakfast leftovers on it. 

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Liv Cooke has travelled across Europe promoting the women’s game

You have to be brave and it can go wrong. One thing’s for sure though: if I don’t manage to break the record in Vienna, I will get it at some point. It’s just when. I know there’s a chance I’m not going to do it, but I think that’s actually very important for people to see. There are so many messages I get insisting, “It’s not fair, you make freestyle look so easy – why’s it easy for you?” And I think doing this touch test and putting myself out there where I might fail or I might not… If people see that, then it’s going to be a lesson to them that I’m not perfect and I do attempt things. 

Learning a freestyle trick takes a lot longer than people would think. Take around the world: at first you’ll need to learn how to do kick-ups and you’ll need to practise. It can take 2,000 attempts before you manage to do one around the world. Then it’s going to take 10,000 attempts to get a bit consistent with it and another 10,000 attempts before you feel confident to do it every time. You’re going to be doing it for a while!

"NO MATTER WHAT POSITION YOU GET YOUR BODY IN, NO MATTER WHERE THE BALL IS IN RESPECT TO YOUR BODY, IF YOU HAVEN'T GOT YOUR BALANCE IN THAT POSITION THEN YOU AREN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO BALANCE THE BALL."
Liv Cooke

The better you get, the harder your next trick will be. Even for a world champion, it doesn’t get any easier learning new tricks. There’s around the world, double around the world, then triple around the world. I have done triple once but to get consistent with that could be five or six years. It’s insane. People wouldn’t even realise that.

You have to control yourself before you can control the ball. I work on my balance a hell of a lot. That’s probably one of the most important things in freestyle. No matter what position you get your body in, no matter where the ball is in respect to your body, if you haven’t got your balance in that position then you aren’t going to be able to balance the ball.

People say I should do an open training session. I’m thinking no, no, no. The world would end up hating me. I get so frustrated. You spend like six or seven years training every single day and you can do this trick, then one day it’s just not working. You do get mad. I find I end up blaming things: it’s my ball; it’s too slippy; my shoes aren’t tight enough. Things like that. I just try and take a second, reset, and think positive affirmations: “Come on, do your best.” It’s just building up my confidence in my head to really make me stand up and smile and go for it again.

Liv Cooke is a UEFA Women’s Football ambassador. See her in action @livcookefs

There's nothing like putting yourself on the spot and for Liv Cooke that means trying to control a ball dropped from the roof of a stadium, with hundreds of thousands of followers watching her every move. That’s the challenge the freestyle world champion has set herself at the Women’s Champions League final in Vienna on 24 May. Do it and she will break the world record of 38.92m, set by former Liverpool and Tottenham ace Jamie Redknapp. If she fails… Well, she will have had a blast trying.

It would be nice to do it off the stadium roof but it’s finding the right height and conditions. It’s difficult. As much as I can develop my touch, there’s only so much training I can do and then the element of luck comes in. With the ball falling and the velocity, any variables like the wind can make it ten times more difficult. There’s a lot of pressure.

My PA Jamie just randomly chucks things at me in weird scenarios. He’s testing my control and reactions in the run up to the touch test. It started off just a football, then it got more extreme. He started chucking a phone and shouting, “Around the world!” He also lobbed a beer bottle at me and I did it! I don’t know why, because I’ve now got a bruise on my ankle. I’ve also had to control a plate with his breakfast leftovers on it. 

Liv Cooke has travelled across Europe promoting the women’s game

You have to be brave and it can go wrong. One thing’s for sure though: if I don’t manage to break the record in Vienna, I will get it at some point. It’s just when. I know there’s a chance I’m not going to do it, but I think that’s actually very important for people to see. There are so many messages I get insisting, “It’s not fair, you make freestyle look so easy – why’s it easy for you?” And I think doing this touch test and putting myself out there where I might fail or I might not… If people see that, then it’s going to be a lesson to them that I’m not perfect and I do attempt things. 

Learning a freestyle trick takes a lot longer than people would think. Take around the world: at first you’ll need to learn how to do kick-ups and you’ll need to practise. It can take 2,000 attempts before you manage to do one around the world. Then it’s going to take 10,000 attempts to get a bit consistent with it and another 10,000 attempts before you feel confident to do it every time. You’re going to be doing it for a while!

"NO MATTER WHAT POSITION YOU GET YOUR BODY IN, NO MATTER WHERE THE BALL IS IN RESPECT TO YOUR BODY, IF YOU HAVEN'T GOT YOUR BALANCE IN THAT POSITION THEN YOU AREN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO BALANCE THE BALL."
Liv Cooke

The better you get, the harder your next trick will be. Even for a world champion, it doesn’t get any easier learning new tricks. There’s around the world, double around the world, then triple around the world. I have done triple once but to get consistent with that could be five or six years. It’s insane. People wouldn’t even realise that.

You have to control yourself before you can control the ball. I work on my balance a hell of a lot. That’s probably one of the most important things in freestyle. No matter what position you get your body in, no matter where the ball is in respect to your body, if you haven’t got your balance in that position then you aren’t going to be able to balance the ball.

People say I should do an open training session. I’m thinking no, no, no. The world would end up hating me. I get so frustrated. You spend like six or seven years training every single day and you can do this trick, then one day it’s just not working. You do get mad. I find I end up blaming things: it’s my ball; it’s too slippy; my shoes aren’t tight enough. Things like that. I just try and take a second, reset, and think positive affirmations: “Come on, do your best.” It’s just building up my confidence in my head to really make me stand up and smile and go for it again.

Liv Cooke is a UEFA Women’s Football ambassador. See her in action @livcookefs

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