Interview

From street to screen

Jack Downer is a street footballer who specialises in panna: nutmegging opponents. He’s also part of the FIFA London Volta Squad, a real-life team that takes its inspiration from a game mode within the series

INTERVIEW Luke Nicoli

What do you like about FIFA Volta?

It’s dynamic, it’s fast and it actually encompasses the tactics that happen in the real street-football world, so you can play 3v3 up to 5v5. It’s all about skills and it’s a lot of fun to play. FIFA Street used to be the way forward but now we’ve got Volta, which is on a bigger scale. With the FIFA London Volta Squad we’re really progressing it and showing everyone that the skills that you do in the game, if you work hard you can do them in real life.

So are you good at the computer version?

The hardest skill in Volta, for me, is to pass properly. I’m always trying to focus on dribbling. The players who do the best are the ones who can pass well and FIFA has a great feature where you can do it off the wall. I’ve seen people score against me by doing that; I’ve tried but it always goes the wrong way. So anyone who can master that, hats off to you.

Have you taken inspiration from the game?

I have. The skills are so realistic; they used the top freestylers to replicate these moves. And tactics-wise, you’re spotting good shapes and seeing where the space is, the same way that you would analysing an actual game of football.

Back to the real world – what is Panna?

Panna is 1v1 football and it's all about nutmegs. Games last three minutes and if you score the most goals, you win. However, if you give the opponent a nutmeg it’s an instant win. I look at it like boxing: you can win on points or with a knockout.  

And do you land a lot of knockout blows?

Because of the nature of the sport, everyone knows you want to get it through their legs. So you have to create something that your opponent has never seen before to trick them, or force them to tackle you and that’s when you get the nutmeg.

Jack Downer in the FIFA London Volta Squad kit

Who can play?

Someone small can be against someone huge, or someone young against someone old. It’s really interesting. It’s more a battle of technique and style; we’re all equal and we’re all playing together.

Are you conscious of inspiring your followers with your skills?

I try to make sure I push the creative boundaries so that it’s never repetitive. You get a lot of people who don’t quite believe it, but the likelihood is that a Panna player will nutmeg most players. And it’s that moment when you pull off a nutmeg – it’s instantaneous joy for everyone. Even the person who gets nutmegged will go, “OK, that’s real!”

What’s your secret?

I do it very logically: depending where my legs are, where I’m resting my weight allows me to move other parts of my body and ‘unfasten’ my legs. I always take inspiration from people online. The great thing about the Panna community is that we’re always trying to better each other, but it’s a team effort really because we take inspiration from each other.  

Are all of your moves pre-prepared?

You do a lot spontaneously. Most of the time when I’m competing, at the World Champs for example, a friend will say, “That’s a good move,” but I will have no recollection because it’s all in the moment. You’ve got to adjust to your opponent, which can put you in a position you’re not normally in and create something nice.

Chelcee Grimes appeared in issue 1 of Champions Journal and she was part of your FIFA London Volta Squad. How did you rate her skills?

She’s amazing. With her low centre of gravity and her feet, she is very skilful. She’s a great player and so much fun.

Do you watch the Champions League to research new moves?

If someone scores by nutmegging the keeper I’m extra happy. And I’m always hoping that the players get to drop some skills and that’s why I'm always fascinated watching Neymar; the way he moves is so fluid. I like watching the players who are very comfortable even when they’ve got two, three players on them, because that’s how I think I'd play if I was good enough for the field. 

Downer is in awe of Paul Pogba’s strength and skill


Of the Champions League players you’ve played Panna with, who has impressed you the most?

I’ve never been as impressed when I’ve met an athlete as I was when I met Paul Pogba. He’s very tall and strong – and I knew he was good with his feet – but playing with him, he was insane. Very balanced, very strong and with a clear awareness of Panna, which was amazing to see. He was aware of distance – in Panna, like boxing, it’s all about staying out of someone’s range – and he knew about blindsides, because he put the ball in places where I wouldn't be able to see it. He had some great moves.  

And is there anyone we should watch out for this season?

Kai Havertz. Got to keep an eye on him. I actually balled with him not too long ago and he amazed me: I’d be doing a skill and he’d say, “I’ve never seen that one.” He’d watch it, I’d pass him the ball and he’d do it.

Who would you most like to play Panna with?

Neymar. No question. I'd love to share some skills with him, learn from him.

What about Lionel Messi?

I would never challenge Messi. He’s in his own league because he’s not doing any skill moves: he’s just dribbling and balanced. And the way that he reads opponents, his feints….

Any players from the past?

Ronaldinho. He was the reason I started playing football. I was on YouTube and a Ronaldinho video came up; afterwards I just picked up a football, went outside and started practising.

Want more? Read how FIFA and Kylian Mbappé have come together in the ultimate fusion of football and gaming here.

What do you like about FIFA Volta?

It’s dynamic, it’s fast and it actually encompasses the tactics that happen in the real street-football world, so you can play 3v3 up to 5v5. It’s all about skills and it’s a lot of fun to play. FIFA Street used to be the way forward but now we’ve got Volta, which is on a bigger scale. With the FIFA London Volta Squad we’re really progressing it and showing everyone that the skills that you do in the game, if you work hard you can do them in real life.

So are you good at the computer version?

The hardest skill in Volta, for me, is to pass properly. I’m always trying to focus on dribbling. The players who do the best are the ones who can pass well and FIFA has a great feature where you can do it off the wall. I’ve seen people score against me by doing that; I’ve tried but it always goes the wrong way. So anyone who can master that, hats off to you.

Have you taken inspiration from the game?

I have. The skills are so realistic; they used the top freestylers to replicate these moves. And tactics-wise, you’re spotting good shapes and seeing where the space is, the same way that you would analysing an actual game of football.

Back to the real world – what is Panna?

Panna is 1v1 football and it's all about nutmegs. Games last three minutes and if you score the most goals, you win. However, if you give the opponent a nutmeg it’s an instant win. I look at it like boxing: you can win on points or with a knockout.  

And do you land a lot of knockout blows?

Because of the nature of the sport, everyone knows you want to get it through their legs. So you have to create something that your opponent has never seen before to trick them, or force them to tackle you and that’s when you get the nutmeg.

Jack Downer in the FIFA London Volta Squad kit

Who can play?

Someone small can be against someone huge, or someone young against someone old. It’s really interesting. It’s more a battle of technique and style; we’re all equal and we’re all playing together.

Are you conscious of inspiring your followers with your skills?

I try to make sure I push the creative boundaries so that it’s never repetitive. You get a lot of people who don’t quite believe it, but the likelihood is that a Panna player will nutmeg most players. And it’s that moment when you pull off a nutmeg – it’s instantaneous joy for everyone. Even the person who gets nutmegged will go, “OK, that’s real!”

What’s your secret?

I do it very logically: depending where my legs are, where I’m resting my weight allows me to move other parts of my body and ‘unfasten’ my legs. I always take inspiration from people online. The great thing about the Panna community is that we’re always trying to better each other, but it’s a team effort really because we take inspiration from each other.  

Are all of your moves pre-prepared?

You do a lot spontaneously. Most of the time when I’m competing, at the World Champs for example, a friend will say, “That’s a good move,” but I will have no recollection because it’s all in the moment. You’ve got to adjust to your opponent, which can put you in a position you’re not normally in and create something nice.

Chelcee Grimes appeared in issue 1 of Champions Journal and she was part of your FIFA London Volta Squad. How did you rate her skills?

She’s amazing. With her low centre of gravity and her feet, she is very skilful. She’s a great player and so much fun.

Do you watch the Champions League to research new moves?

If someone scores by nutmegging the keeper I’m extra happy. And I’m always hoping that the players get to drop some skills and that’s why I'm always fascinated watching Neymar; the way he moves is so fluid. I like watching the players who are very comfortable even when they’ve got two, three players on them, because that’s how I think I'd play if I was good enough for the field. 

Downer is in awe of Paul Pogba’s strength and skill


Of the Champions League players you’ve played Panna with, who has impressed you the most?

I’ve never been as impressed when I’ve met an athlete as I was when I met Paul Pogba. He’s very tall and strong – and I knew he was good with his feet – but playing with him, he was insane. Very balanced, very strong and with a clear awareness of Panna, which was amazing to see. He was aware of distance – in Panna, like boxing, it’s all about staying out of someone’s range – and he knew about blindsides, because he put the ball in places where I wouldn't be able to see it. He had some great moves.  

And is there anyone we should watch out for this season?

Kai Havertz. Got to keep an eye on him. I actually balled with him not too long ago and he amazed me: I’d be doing a skill and he’d say, “I’ve never seen that one.” He’d watch it, I’d pass him the ball and he’d do it.

Who would you most like to play Panna with?

Neymar. No question. I'd love to share some skills with him, learn from him.

What about Lionel Messi?

I would never challenge Messi. He’s in his own league because he’s not doing any skill moves: he’s just dribbling and balanced. And the way that he reads opponents, his feints….

Any players from the past?

Ronaldinho. He was the reason I started playing football. I was on YouTube and a Ronaldinho video came up; afterwards I just picked up a football, went outside and started practising.

Want more? Read how FIFA and Kylian Mbappé have come together in the ultimate fusion of football and gaming here.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

What do you like about FIFA Volta?

It’s dynamic, it’s fast and it actually encompasses the tactics that happen in the real street-football world, so you can play 3v3 up to 5v5. It’s all about skills and it’s a lot of fun to play. FIFA Street used to be the way forward but now we’ve got Volta, which is on a bigger scale. With the FIFA London Volta Squad we’re really progressing it and showing everyone that the skills that you do in the game, if you work hard you can do them in real life.

So are you good at the computer version?

The hardest skill in Volta, for me, is to pass properly. I’m always trying to focus on dribbling. The players who do the best are the ones who can pass well and FIFA has a great feature where you can do it off the wall. I’ve seen people score against me by doing that; I’ve tried but it always goes the wrong way. So anyone who can master that, hats off to you.

Have you taken inspiration from the game?

I have. The skills are so realistic; they used the top freestylers to replicate these moves. And tactics-wise, you’re spotting good shapes and seeing where the space is, the same way that you would analysing an actual game of football.

Back to the real world – what is Panna?

Panna is 1v1 football and it's all about nutmegs. Games last three minutes and if you score the most goals, you win. However, if you give the opponent a nutmeg it’s an instant win. I look at it like boxing: you can win on points or with a knockout.  

And do you land a lot of knockout blows?

Because of the nature of the sport, everyone knows you want to get it through their legs. So you have to create something that your opponent has never seen before to trick them, or force them to tackle you and that’s when you get the nutmeg.

Jack Downer in the FIFA London Volta Squad kit

Who can play?

Someone small can be against someone huge, or someone young against someone old. It’s really interesting. It’s more a battle of technique and style; we’re all equal and we’re all playing together.

Are you conscious of inspiring your followers with your skills?

I try to make sure I push the creative boundaries so that it’s never repetitive. You get a lot of people who don’t quite believe it, but the likelihood is that a Panna player will nutmeg most players. And it’s that moment when you pull off a nutmeg – it’s instantaneous joy for everyone. Even the person who gets nutmegged will go, “OK, that’s real!”

What’s your secret?

I do it very logically: depending where my legs are, where I’m resting my weight allows me to move other parts of my body and ‘unfasten’ my legs. I always take inspiration from people online. The great thing about the Panna community is that we’re always trying to better each other, but it’s a team effort really because we take inspiration from each other.  

Are all of your moves pre-prepared?

You do a lot spontaneously. Most of the time when I’m competing, at the World Champs for example, a friend will say, “That’s a good move,” but I will have no recollection because it’s all in the moment. You’ve got to adjust to your opponent, which can put you in a position you’re not normally in and create something nice.

Chelcee Grimes appeared in issue 1 of Champions Journal and she was part of your FIFA London Volta Squad. How did you rate her skills?

She’s amazing. With her low centre of gravity and her feet, she is very skilful. She’s a great player and so much fun.

Do you watch the Champions League to research new moves?

If someone scores by nutmegging the keeper I’m extra happy. And I’m always hoping that the players get to drop some skills and that’s why I'm always fascinated watching Neymar; the way he moves is so fluid. I like watching the players who are very comfortable even when they’ve got two, three players on them, because that’s how I think I'd play if I was good enough for the field. 

Downer is in awe of Paul Pogba’s strength and skill


Of the Champions League players you’ve played Panna with, who has impressed you the most?

I’ve never been as impressed when I’ve met an athlete as I was when I met Paul Pogba. He’s very tall and strong – and I knew he was good with his feet – but playing with him, he was insane. Very balanced, very strong and with a clear awareness of Panna, which was amazing to see. He was aware of distance – in Panna, like boxing, it’s all about staying out of someone’s range – and he knew about blindsides, because he put the ball in places where I wouldn't be able to see it. He had some great moves.  

And is there anyone we should watch out for this season?

Kai Havertz. Got to keep an eye on him. I actually balled with him not too long ago and he amazed me: I’d be doing a skill and he’d say, “I’ve never seen that one.” He’d watch it, I’d pass him the ball and he’d do it.

Who would you most like to play Panna with?

Neymar. No question. I'd love to share some skills with him, learn from him.

What about Lionel Messi?

I would never challenge Messi. He’s in his own league because he’s not doing any skill moves: he’s just dribbling and balanced. And the way that he reads opponents, his feints….

Any players from the past?

Ronaldinho. He was the reason I started playing football. I was on YouTube and a Ronaldinho video came up; afterwards I just picked up a football, went outside and started practising.

Want more? Read how FIFA and Kylian Mbappé have come together in the ultimate fusion of football and gaming here.

From street to screen
Interview

From street to screen

Jack Downer is a street footballer who specialises in panna: nutmegging opponents. He’s also part of the FIFA London Volta Squad, a real-life team that takes its inspiration from a game mode within the series

INTERVIEW Luke Nicoli

What do you like about FIFA Volta?

It’s dynamic, it’s fast and it actually encompasses the tactics that happen in the real street-football world, so you can play 3v3 up to 5v5. It’s all about skills and it’s a lot of fun to play. FIFA Street used to be the way forward but now we’ve got Volta, which is on a bigger scale. With the FIFA London Volta Squad we’re really progressing it and showing everyone that the skills that you do in the game, if you work hard you can do them in real life.

So are you good at the computer version?

The hardest skill in Volta, for me, is to pass properly. I’m always trying to focus on dribbling. The players who do the best are the ones who can pass well and FIFA has a great feature where you can do it off the wall. I’ve seen people score against me by doing that; I’ve tried but it always goes the wrong way. So anyone who can master that, hats off to you.

Have you taken inspiration from the game?

I have. The skills are so realistic; they used the top freestylers to replicate these moves. And tactics-wise, you’re spotting good shapes and seeing where the space is, the same way that you would analysing an actual game of football.

Back to the real world – what is Panna?

Panna is 1v1 football and it's all about nutmegs. Games last three minutes and if you score the most goals, you win. However, if you give the opponent a nutmeg it’s an instant win. I look at it like boxing: you can win on points or with a knockout.  

And do you land a lot of knockout blows?

Because of the nature of the sport, everyone knows you want to get it through their legs. So you have to create something that your opponent has never seen before to trick them, or force them to tackle you and that’s when you get the nutmeg.

Jack Downer in the FIFA London Volta Squad kit

Who can play?

Someone small can be against someone huge, or someone young against someone old. It’s really interesting. It’s more a battle of technique and style; we’re all equal and we’re all playing together.

Are you conscious of inspiring your followers with your skills?

I try to make sure I push the creative boundaries so that it’s never repetitive. You get a lot of people who don’t quite believe it, but the likelihood is that a Panna player will nutmeg most players. And it’s that moment when you pull off a nutmeg – it’s instantaneous joy for everyone. Even the person who gets nutmegged will go, “OK, that’s real!”

What’s your secret?

I do it very logically: depending where my legs are, where I’m resting my weight allows me to move other parts of my body and ‘unfasten’ my legs. I always take inspiration from people online. The great thing about the Panna community is that we’re always trying to better each other, but it’s a team effort really because we take inspiration from each other.  

Are all of your moves pre-prepared?

You do a lot spontaneously. Most of the time when I’m competing, at the World Champs for example, a friend will say, “That’s a good move,” but I will have no recollection because it’s all in the moment. You’ve got to adjust to your opponent, which can put you in a position you’re not normally in and create something nice.

Chelcee Grimes appeared in issue 1 of Champions Journal and she was part of your FIFA London Volta Squad. How did you rate her skills?

She’s amazing. With her low centre of gravity and her feet, she is very skilful. She’s a great player and so much fun.

Do you watch the Champions League to research new moves?

If someone scores by nutmegging the keeper I’m extra happy. And I’m always hoping that the players get to drop some skills and that’s why I'm always fascinated watching Neymar; the way he moves is so fluid. I like watching the players who are very comfortable even when they’ve got two, three players on them, because that’s how I think I'd play if I was good enough for the field. 

Downer is in awe of Paul Pogba’s strength and skill


Of the Champions League players you’ve played Panna with, who has impressed you the most?

I’ve never been as impressed when I’ve met an athlete as I was when I met Paul Pogba. He’s very tall and strong – and I knew he was good with his feet – but playing with him, he was insane. Very balanced, very strong and with a clear awareness of Panna, which was amazing to see. He was aware of distance – in Panna, like boxing, it’s all about staying out of someone’s range – and he knew about blindsides, because he put the ball in places where I wouldn't be able to see it. He had some great moves.  

And is there anyone we should watch out for this season?

Kai Havertz. Got to keep an eye on him. I actually balled with him not too long ago and he amazed me: I’d be doing a skill and he’d say, “I’ve never seen that one.” He’d watch it, I’d pass him the ball and he’d do it.

Who would you most like to play Panna with?

Neymar. No question. I'd love to share some skills with him, learn from him.

What about Lionel Messi?

I would never challenge Messi. He’s in his own league because he’s not doing any skill moves: he’s just dribbling and balanced. And the way that he reads opponents, his feints….

Any players from the past?

Ronaldinho. He was the reason I started playing football. I was on YouTube and a Ronaldinho video came up; afterwards I just picked up a football, went outside and started practising.

Want more? Read how FIFA and Kylian Mbappé have come together in the ultimate fusion of football and gaming here.

Penalty Pedigree

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What do you like about FIFA Volta?

It’s dynamic, it’s fast and it actually encompasses the tactics that happen in the real street-football world, so you can play 3v3 up to 5v5. It’s all about skills and it’s a lot of fun to play. FIFA Street used to be the way forward but now we’ve got Volta, which is on a bigger scale. With the FIFA London Volta Squad we’re really progressing it and showing everyone that the skills that you do in the game, if you work hard you can do them in real life.

So are you good at the computer version?

The hardest skill in Volta, for me, is to pass properly. I’m always trying to focus on dribbling. The players who do the best are the ones who can pass well and FIFA has a great feature where you can do it off the wall. I’ve seen people score against me by doing that; I’ve tried but it always goes the wrong way. So anyone who can master that, hats off to you.

Have you taken inspiration from the game?

I have. The skills are so realistic; they used the top freestylers to replicate these moves. And tactics-wise, you’re spotting good shapes and seeing where the space is, the same way that you would analysing an actual game of football.

Back to the real world – what is Panna?

Panna is 1v1 football and it's all about nutmegs. Games last three minutes and if you score the most goals, you win. However, if you give the opponent a nutmeg it’s an instant win. I look at it like boxing: you can win on points or with a knockout.  

And do you land a lot of knockout blows?

Because of the nature of the sport, everyone knows you want to get it through their legs. So you have to create something that your opponent has never seen before to trick them, or force them to tackle you and that’s when you get the nutmeg.

Jack Downer in the FIFA London Volta Squad kit

Who can play?

Someone small can be against someone huge, or someone young against someone old. It’s really interesting. It’s more a battle of technique and style; we’re all equal and we’re all playing together.

Are you conscious of inspiring your followers with your skills?

I try to make sure I push the creative boundaries so that it’s never repetitive. You get a lot of people who don’t quite believe it, but the likelihood is that a Panna player will nutmeg most players. And it’s that moment when you pull off a nutmeg – it’s instantaneous joy for everyone. Even the person who gets nutmegged will go, “OK, that’s real!”

What’s your secret?

I do it very logically: depending where my legs are, where I’m resting my weight allows me to move other parts of my body and ‘unfasten’ my legs. I always take inspiration from people online. The great thing about the Panna community is that we’re always trying to better each other, but it’s a team effort really because we take inspiration from each other.  

Are all of your moves pre-prepared?

You do a lot spontaneously. Most of the time when I’m competing, at the World Champs for example, a friend will say, “That’s a good move,” but I will have no recollection because it’s all in the moment. You’ve got to adjust to your opponent, which can put you in a position you’re not normally in and create something nice.

Chelcee Grimes appeared in issue 1 of Champions Journal and she was part of your FIFA London Volta Squad. How did you rate her skills?

She’s amazing. With her low centre of gravity and her feet, she is very skilful. She’s a great player and so much fun.

Do you watch the Champions League to research new moves?

If someone scores by nutmegging the keeper I’m extra happy. And I’m always hoping that the players get to drop some skills and that’s why I'm always fascinated watching Neymar; the way he moves is so fluid. I like watching the players who are very comfortable even when they’ve got two, three players on them, because that’s how I think I'd play if I was good enough for the field. 

Downer is in awe of Paul Pogba’s strength and skill


Of the Champions League players you’ve played Panna with, who has impressed you the most?

I’ve never been as impressed when I’ve met an athlete as I was when I met Paul Pogba. He’s very tall and strong – and I knew he was good with his feet – but playing with him, he was insane. Very balanced, very strong and with a clear awareness of Panna, which was amazing to see. He was aware of distance – in Panna, like boxing, it’s all about staying out of someone’s range – and he knew about blindsides, because he put the ball in places where I wouldn't be able to see it. He had some great moves.  

And is there anyone we should watch out for this season?

Kai Havertz. Got to keep an eye on him. I actually balled with him not too long ago and he amazed me: I’d be doing a skill and he’d say, “I’ve never seen that one.” He’d watch it, I’d pass him the ball and he’d do it.

Who would you most like to play Panna with?

Neymar. No question. I'd love to share some skills with him, learn from him.

What about Lionel Messi?

I would never challenge Messi. He’s in his own league because he’s not doing any skill moves: he’s just dribbling and balanced. And the way that he reads opponents, his feints….

Any players from the past?

Ronaldinho. He was the reason I started playing football. I was on YouTube and a Ronaldinho video came up; afterwards I just picked up a football, went outside and started practising.

Want more? Read how FIFA and Kylian Mbappé have come together in the ultimate fusion of football and gaming here.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

What do you like about FIFA Volta?

It’s dynamic, it’s fast and it actually encompasses the tactics that happen in the real street-football world, so you can play 3v3 up to 5v5. It’s all about skills and it’s a lot of fun to play. FIFA Street used to be the way forward but now we’ve got Volta, which is on a bigger scale. With the FIFA London Volta Squad we’re really progressing it and showing everyone that the skills that you do in the game, if you work hard you can do them in real life.

So are you good at the computer version?

The hardest skill in Volta, for me, is to pass properly. I’m always trying to focus on dribbling. The players who do the best are the ones who can pass well and FIFA has a great feature where you can do it off the wall. I’ve seen people score against me by doing that; I’ve tried but it always goes the wrong way. So anyone who can master that, hats off to you.

Have you taken inspiration from the game?

I have. The skills are so realistic; they used the top freestylers to replicate these moves. And tactics-wise, you’re spotting good shapes and seeing where the space is, the same way that you would analysing an actual game of football.

Back to the real world – what is Panna?

Panna is 1v1 football and it's all about nutmegs. Games last three minutes and if you score the most goals, you win. However, if you give the opponent a nutmeg it’s an instant win. I look at it like boxing: you can win on points or with a knockout.  

And do you land a lot of knockout blows?

Because of the nature of the sport, everyone knows you want to get it through their legs. So you have to create something that your opponent has never seen before to trick them, or force them to tackle you and that’s when you get the nutmeg.

Jack Downer in the FIFA London Volta Squad kit

Who can play?

Someone small can be against someone huge, or someone young against someone old. It’s really interesting. It’s more a battle of technique and style; we’re all equal and we’re all playing together.

Are you conscious of inspiring your followers with your skills?

I try to make sure I push the creative boundaries so that it’s never repetitive. You get a lot of people who don’t quite believe it, but the likelihood is that a Panna player will nutmeg most players. And it’s that moment when you pull off a nutmeg – it’s instantaneous joy for everyone. Even the person who gets nutmegged will go, “OK, that’s real!”

What’s your secret?

I do it very logically: depending where my legs are, where I’m resting my weight allows me to move other parts of my body and ‘unfasten’ my legs. I always take inspiration from people online. The great thing about the Panna community is that we’re always trying to better each other, but it’s a team effort really because we take inspiration from each other.  

Are all of your moves pre-prepared?

You do a lot spontaneously. Most of the time when I’m competing, at the World Champs for example, a friend will say, “That’s a good move,” but I will have no recollection because it’s all in the moment. You’ve got to adjust to your opponent, which can put you in a position you’re not normally in and create something nice.

Chelcee Grimes appeared in issue 1 of Champions Journal and she was part of your FIFA London Volta Squad. How did you rate her skills?

She’s amazing. With her low centre of gravity and her feet, she is very skilful. She’s a great player and so much fun.

Do you watch the Champions League to research new moves?

If someone scores by nutmegging the keeper I’m extra happy. And I’m always hoping that the players get to drop some skills and that’s why I'm always fascinated watching Neymar; the way he moves is so fluid. I like watching the players who are very comfortable even when they’ve got two, three players on them, because that’s how I think I'd play if I was good enough for the field. 

Downer is in awe of Paul Pogba’s strength and skill


Of the Champions League players you’ve played Panna with, who has impressed you the most?

I’ve never been as impressed when I’ve met an athlete as I was when I met Paul Pogba. He’s very tall and strong – and I knew he was good with his feet – but playing with him, he was insane. Very balanced, very strong and with a clear awareness of Panna, which was amazing to see. He was aware of distance – in Panna, like boxing, it’s all about staying out of someone’s range – and he knew about blindsides, because he put the ball in places where I wouldn't be able to see it. He had some great moves.  

And is there anyone we should watch out for this season?

Kai Havertz. Got to keep an eye on him. I actually balled with him not too long ago and he amazed me: I’d be doing a skill and he’d say, “I’ve never seen that one.” He’d watch it, I’d pass him the ball and he’d do it.

Who would you most like to play Panna with?

Neymar. No question. I'd love to share some skills with him, learn from him.

What about Lionel Messi?

I would never challenge Messi. He’s in his own league because he’s not doing any skill moves: he’s just dribbling and balanced. And the way that he reads opponents, his feints….

Any players from the past?

Ronaldinho. He was the reason I started playing football. I was on YouTube and a Ronaldinho video came up; afterwards I just picked up a football, went outside and started practising.

Want more? Read how FIFA and Kylian Mbappé have come together in the ultimate fusion of football and gaming here.

Penalty Pedigree

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