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Music

On Song

Football was chart-topping singer Tom Grennan’s first love; he was on the books at several professional clubs before making the switch to music. We caught up with the Manchester United fan to discuss Cristiano Ronaldo’s return, rubbing shoulders with Champions League legends and the karaoke session that changed everything

WORDS James Hanley

His stage has ended up being the traditional kind, complete with microphone and guitar, but there was a time when it looked like Tom Grennan would be performing in front of thousands of fans on a football pitch instead. “I played for the academies until I was 17: Luton, Northampton, Stevenage,” says the singer-songwriter, who also had a stint at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath academy. In fact, the 26-year-old was born just three months before Jack Grealish – but they’ve gone in different directions since. “I was going to go to America because I got offered a scholarship to do a college course there and play football. But to be honest, I couldn’t pass the SATs. And I was just like, ‘You know what? It wasn’t meant to be.’”

However, next came a performance off the pitch that commanded attention. “I stopped playing football and was just mucking around with friends, starting to go to house parties and stuff like that. My mate had a karaoke machine, so one time I jumped on and people were like, ‘What? You can kind of sing...’

“Then some of the music boys at school needed a singer for their band. I didn’t know if I fancied it at first – but I ended up doing it and loved it. Then I moved to London, taught myself how to play guitar, wrote some songs and just caught the bug. I just ran with it.”

Grennan put pen to paper on a record deal with Insanity Records in 2016 and his first chart hit came in the same year as guest vocalist on Chase & Status’s All Goes Wrong; his debut LP, Lighting Matches, dropped in July 2018 and peaked at No.5.

Tom Grennan holds off United legend Wayne Rooney

In between times, the beautiful game again played a part in his career: his 2017 anthem Found What I’ve Been Looking For was chosen as the intro theme for Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, as well as appearing on the FIFA 18 soundtrack. More recently he scored a hit with Ella Henderson in the shape of Let’s Go Home Together, which reached No.1 on the Official Trending Chart earlier this year.

What’s next – does he fancy the Champions League final opening ceremony? “Yeah, definitely! Hopefully one day I can do it, but we’ll see. I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully these opportunities will come my way.”

One opportunity that Grennan jumped at in September was the chance to line up alongside Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Nigel de Jong and Clarence Seedorf – not to mention Usain Bolt, as well as fellow musicians Yungblud, Big Zuu and Dermot Kennedy, among others. The occasion, of course, was charity game Soccer Aid’s landmark tenth edition, which raised a record £13m for UNICEF.

“I’m happy with how things have turned out but bloody hell, the life of a footballer,” laughs Grennan. “Soccer Aid gave us the experience of living like one for a couple of days and being in a team environment, it was an amazing thing. And then running out onto the pitch, warming up and seeing the crowd coming into the stadium… It was so good.”

Music
DJ Grennan’s playlist

Songs past and present find their way into the artist’s harmonious line-up

Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse

“The Queen of England, and a massive inspiration to my writing and delivery.”


3 Wheel-ups by Kano

“Just a proper banger. The flow and energy on this record are on another level.”

Underglow by Mugun

“The most exciting new rapper in the UK, from Coventry. His flow is ridiculous and lyrically on another level.”

Lucky Day by Frankie Beetlestone

“Frankie has been on tour with me doing his first ever shows and the kid is a star. The crowd have been going nuts for him every night.”

Same Cloud by Rose Gray

“Rose has also been on tour with me and she’s channelling a Róisín Murphy meets Saint Etienne vibe. Her vocal range is insane live.”

His stage has ended up being the traditional kind, complete with microphone and guitar, but there was a time when it looked like Tom Grennan would be performing in front of thousands of fans on a football pitch instead. “I played for the academies until I was 17: Luton, Northampton, Stevenage,” says the singer-songwriter, who also had a stint at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath academy. In fact, the 26-year-old was born just three months before Jack Grealish – but they’ve gone in different directions since. “I was going to go to America because I got offered a scholarship to do a college course there and play football. But to be honest, I couldn’t pass the SATs. And I was just like, ‘You know what? It wasn’t meant to be.’”

However, next came a performance off the pitch that commanded attention. “I stopped playing football and was just mucking around with friends, starting to go to house parties and stuff like that. My mate had a karaoke machine, so one time I jumped on and people were like, ‘What? You can kind of sing...’

“Then some of the music boys at school needed a singer for their band. I didn’t know if I fancied it at first – but I ended up doing it and loved it. Then I moved to London, taught myself how to play guitar, wrote some songs and just caught the bug. I just ran with it.”

Grennan put pen to paper on a record deal with Insanity Records in 2016 and his first chart hit came in the same year as guest vocalist on Chase & Status’s All Goes Wrong; his debut LP, Lighting Matches, dropped in July 2018 and peaked at No.5.

Tom Grennan holds off United legend Wayne Rooney

In between times, the beautiful game again played a part in his career: his 2017 anthem Found What I’ve Been Looking For was chosen as the intro theme for Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, as well as appearing on the FIFA 18 soundtrack. More recently he scored a hit with Ella Henderson in the shape of Let’s Go Home Together, which reached No.1 on the Official Trending Chart earlier this year.

What’s next – does he fancy the Champions League final opening ceremony? “Yeah, definitely! Hopefully one day I can do it, but we’ll see. I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully these opportunities will come my way.”

One opportunity that Grennan jumped at in September was the chance to line up alongside Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Nigel de Jong and Clarence Seedorf – not to mention Usain Bolt, as well as fellow musicians Yungblud, Big Zuu and Dermot Kennedy, among others. The occasion, of course, was charity game Soccer Aid’s landmark tenth edition, which raised a record £13m for UNICEF.

“I’m happy with how things have turned out but bloody hell, the life of a footballer,” laughs Grennan. “Soccer Aid gave us the experience of living like one for a couple of days and being in a team environment, it was an amazing thing. And then running out onto the pitch, warming up and seeing the crowd coming into the stadium… It was so good.”

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!

The Bedford-born star, whose second LP Evering Road debuted at No.1 on the UK albums chart earlier this year, earned rave reviews for his performance in the fundraiser. He helped Harry Redknapp’s World XI to a 3-0 victory over an England side managed by Sven-Göran Eriksson at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium; his display in the middle of the park left supporters – and his superstar teammates, no less – purring.

“To be honest with you, I thought I was man of the match,” grins Grennan. “I played the first half and Harry Redknapp said he thought he was going to have to take me off, so I was like, ‘No problem.’ But then Darren Fletcher and Nigel de Jong said, ‘There is no way you are going off right now.’ It was pretty surreal to have Nigel de Jong coming up and saying, ‘You’re still playing then, right?’ And I was like, ‘I think Harry wants me out,’ and he replied, ‘Nope, not happening. You’re staying on the pitch.’

“I’ve got to mention Darren Fletcher as well because he was unreal. He pulled me aside in training and said, ‘I can see you can play a bit.’ I’m not a nervous person; I feel like nerves are a negative thing and I had so much excitement. I was ready to show people that I could actually play, because I’d been talking about it for ages but not had the chance to show it. And I enjoyed every second.”

The biggest thrill for lifelong Manchester United fan Grennan, however, was going up against club legends Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville. “I’ve grown up watching these people and I never thought I’d ever be in a room with them, let alone a football pitch,” he says. “I always wanted to be Paul Scholes or David Beckham. Scholes was the player I studied. I wanted to be just like him, pinging balls and not panicking in possession, and luckily enough I got to meet him. My dad’s Irish and he got to meet Robbie Keane after the game, which was a dream come true. So it was mad, all of it.”

Grennan was too young to appreciate United’s famous Champions League final win over Bayern Munich in 1999 (he turned four two weeks later), but retains special memories of their most recent triumph in the competition in 2008, when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side defeated Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. “I remember being at home with a mate, who’s a United fan as well, and watching it with my dad on the TV,” he says. “I remember the goals and just that feeling of winning. It was an amazing experience because I was young, I was a proper die-hard. I still am but I lived and breathed it, do you know what I mean? I bowled into school the next day going, ‘Yeah, we’ve done it!’”

Naturally Grennan is cock-a-hoop over the surprise return of five-time Champions League and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese opened the scoring that night in the Luzhniki Stadium and also made his debut for Manchester United in the first game that Grennan ever attended: a 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford in 2003. “It’s so exciting to have him back in the team and back in the Premier League,” he says. “We’ve got good players who want to win and having Ronaldo is only going to help.”

When he’s not following the football, it’s a relief for Grennan to be back doing what he loves: he returned to the live stage at Reading and Leeds festivals over the summer and headed off on a sold-out UK headline tour in September. “It’s kind of like seeing an old friend for the first time in a while and going, ‘Bloody hell, I’ve missed you,’ but nothing has really changed,” he says. “It’s been nice to see people enjoy themselves and forget about coronavirus. Seeing people in the room, singing along and having that sense of freedom again, has been an emotional and beautiful thing.”

It was a scene reminiscent of the Stretford End when Ronaldo strode out for the home side for the first time in 12 years. Even the Portuguese couldn’t prevent United’s 2021/22 Champions League campaign from getting off to an inauspicious start though, with a shock 2-1 defeat at Young Boys in Switzerland, but Grennan is keeping the faith. “Listen, you can’t not mention Ronaldo, how much he wants to win and how many trophies he’s got under his belt. United have got a young side and I feel like they’re going to learn from him and he’s going to pull us through. Will we win it? I don’t know. I wish I could say yes, but there are some strong competitors. We’ll see. But I’ve got high hopes.”

Music
DJ Grennan’s playlist

Songs past and present find their way into the artist’s harmonious line-up

Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse

“The Queen of England, and a massive inspiration to my writing and delivery.”


3 Wheel-ups by Kano

“Just a proper banger. The flow and energy on this record are on another level.”

Underglow by Mugun

“The most exciting new rapper in the UK, from Coventry. His flow is ridiculous and lyrically on another level.”

Lucky Day by Frankie Beetlestone

“Frankie has been on tour with me doing his first ever shows and the kid is a star. The crowd have been going nuts for him every night.”

Same Cloud by Rose Gray

“Rose has also been on tour with me and she’s channelling a Róisín Murphy meets Saint Etienne vibe. Her vocal range is insane live.”

His stage has ended up being the traditional kind, complete with microphone and guitar, but there was a time when it looked like Tom Grennan would be performing in front of thousands of fans on a football pitch instead. “I played for the academies until I was 17: Luton, Northampton, Stevenage,” says the singer-songwriter, who also had a stint at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath academy. In fact, the 26-year-old was born just three months before Jack Grealish – but they’ve gone in different directions since. “I was going to go to America because I got offered a scholarship to do a college course there and play football. But to be honest, I couldn’t pass the SATs. And I was just like, ‘You know what? It wasn’t meant to be.’”

However, next came a performance off the pitch that commanded attention. “I stopped playing football and was just mucking around with friends, starting to go to house parties and stuff like that. My mate had a karaoke machine, so one time I jumped on and people were like, ‘What? You can kind of sing...’

“Then some of the music boys at school needed a singer for their band. I didn’t know if I fancied it at first – but I ended up doing it and loved it. Then I moved to London, taught myself how to play guitar, wrote some songs and just caught the bug. I just ran with it.”

Grennan put pen to paper on a record deal with Insanity Records in 2016 and his first chart hit came in the same year as guest vocalist on Chase & Status’s All Goes Wrong; his debut LP, Lighting Matches, dropped in July 2018 and peaked at No.5.

Tom Grennan holds off United legend Wayne Rooney

In between times, the beautiful game again played a part in his career: his 2017 anthem Found What I’ve Been Looking For was chosen as the intro theme for Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, as well as appearing on the FIFA 18 soundtrack. More recently he scored a hit with Ella Henderson in the shape of Let’s Go Home Together, which reached No.1 on the Official Trending Chart earlier this year.

What’s next – does he fancy the Champions League final opening ceremony? “Yeah, definitely! Hopefully one day I can do it, but we’ll see. I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully these opportunities will come my way.”

One opportunity that Grennan jumped at in September was the chance to line up alongside Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Nigel de Jong and Clarence Seedorf – not to mention Usain Bolt, as well as fellow musicians Yungblud, Big Zuu and Dermot Kennedy, among others. The occasion, of course, was charity game Soccer Aid’s landmark tenth edition, which raised a record £13m for UNICEF.

“I’m happy with how things have turned out but bloody hell, the life of a footballer,” laughs Grennan. “Soccer Aid gave us the experience of living like one for a couple of days and being in a team environment, it was an amazing thing. And then running out onto the pitch, warming up and seeing the crowd coming into the stadium… It was so good.”

Music
On Song

Songs past and present find their way into the artist’s harmonious line-up

Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse

“The Queen of England, and a massive inspiration to my writing and delivery.”


3 Wheel-ups by Kano

“Just a proper banger. The flow and energy on this record are on another level.”

Underglow by Mugun

“The most exciting new rapper in the UK, from Coventry. His flow is ridiculous and lyrically on another level.”

Lucky Day by Frankie Beetlestone

“Frankie has been on tour with me doing his first ever shows and the kid is a star. The crowd have been going nuts for him every night.”

Same Cloud by Rose Gray

“Rose has also been on tour with me and she’s channelling a Róisín Murphy meets Saint Etienne vibe. Her vocal range is insane live.”

Music

On Song

Football was chart-topping singer Tom Grennan’s first love; he was on the books at several professional clubs before making the switch to music. We caught up with the Manchester United fan to discuss Cristiano Ronaldo’s return, rubbing shoulders with Champions League legends and the karaoke session that changed everything

WORDS James Hanley

His stage has ended up being the traditional kind, complete with microphone and guitar, but there was a time when it looked like Tom Grennan would be performing in front of thousands of fans on a football pitch instead. “I played for the academies until I was 17: Luton, Northampton, Stevenage,” says the singer-songwriter, who also had a stint at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath academy. In fact, the 26-year-old was born just three months before Jack Grealish – but they’ve gone in different directions since. “I was going to go to America because I got offered a scholarship to do a college course there and play football. But to be honest, I couldn’t pass the SATs. And I was just like, ‘You know what? It wasn’t meant to be.’”

However, next came a performance off the pitch that commanded attention. “I stopped playing football and was just mucking around with friends, starting to go to house parties and stuff like that. My mate had a karaoke machine, so one time I jumped on and people were like, ‘What? You can kind of sing...’

“Then some of the music boys at school needed a singer for their band. I didn’t know if I fancied it at first – but I ended up doing it and loved it. Then I moved to London, taught myself how to play guitar, wrote some songs and just caught the bug. I just ran with it.”

Grennan put pen to paper on a record deal with Insanity Records in 2016 and his first chart hit came in the same year as guest vocalist on Chase & Status’s All Goes Wrong; his debut LP, Lighting Matches, dropped in July 2018 and peaked at No.5.

Tom Grennan holds off United legend Wayne Rooney

In between times, the beautiful game again played a part in his career: his 2017 anthem Found What I’ve Been Looking For was chosen as the intro theme for Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, as well as appearing on the FIFA 18 soundtrack. More recently he scored a hit with Ella Henderson in the shape of Let’s Go Home Together, which reached No.1 on the Official Trending Chart earlier this year.

What’s next – does he fancy the Champions League final opening ceremony? “Yeah, definitely! Hopefully one day I can do it, but we’ll see. I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully these opportunities will come my way.”

One opportunity that Grennan jumped at in September was the chance to line up alongside Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Nigel de Jong and Clarence Seedorf – not to mention Usain Bolt, as well as fellow musicians Yungblud, Big Zuu and Dermot Kennedy, among others. The occasion, of course, was charity game Soccer Aid’s landmark tenth edition, which raised a record £13m for UNICEF.

“I’m happy with how things have turned out but bloody hell, the life of a footballer,” laughs Grennan. “Soccer Aid gave us the experience of living like one for a couple of days and being in a team environment, it was an amazing thing. And then running out onto the pitch, warming up and seeing the crowd coming into the stadium… It was so good.”

Music
Penalty Pedigree

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His stage has ended up being the traditional kind, complete with microphone and guitar, but there was a time when it looked like Tom Grennan would be performing in front of thousands of fans on a football pitch instead. “I played for the academies until I was 17: Luton, Northampton, Stevenage,” says the singer-songwriter, who also had a stint at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath academy. In fact, the 26-year-old was born just three months before Jack Grealish – but they’ve gone in different directions since. “I was going to go to America because I got offered a scholarship to do a college course there and play football. But to be honest, I couldn’t pass the SATs. And I was just like, ‘You know what? It wasn’t meant to be.’”

However, next came a performance off the pitch that commanded attention. “I stopped playing football and was just mucking around with friends, starting to go to house parties and stuff like that. My mate had a karaoke machine, so one time I jumped on and people were like, ‘What? You can kind of sing...’

“Then some of the music boys at school needed a singer for their band. I didn’t know if I fancied it at first – but I ended up doing it and loved it. Then I moved to London, taught myself how to play guitar, wrote some songs and just caught the bug. I just ran with it.”

Grennan put pen to paper on a record deal with Insanity Records in 2016 and his first chart hit came in the same year as guest vocalist on Chase & Status’s All Goes Wrong; his debut LP, Lighting Matches, dropped in July 2018 and peaked at No.5.

Tom Grennan holds off United legend Wayne Rooney

In between times, the beautiful game again played a part in his career: his 2017 anthem Found What I’ve Been Looking For was chosen as the intro theme for Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, as well as appearing on the FIFA 18 soundtrack. More recently he scored a hit with Ella Henderson in the shape of Let’s Go Home Together, which reached No.1 on the Official Trending Chart earlier this year.

What’s next – does he fancy the Champions League final opening ceremony? “Yeah, definitely! Hopefully one day I can do it, but we’ll see. I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully these opportunities will come my way.”

One opportunity that Grennan jumped at in September was the chance to line up alongside Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Nigel de Jong and Clarence Seedorf – not to mention Usain Bolt, as well as fellow musicians Yungblud, Big Zuu and Dermot Kennedy, among others. The occasion, of course, was charity game Soccer Aid’s landmark tenth edition, which raised a record £13m for UNICEF.

“I’m happy with how things have turned out but bloody hell, the life of a footballer,” laughs Grennan. “Soccer Aid gave us the experience of living like one for a couple of days and being in a team environment, it was an amazing thing. And then running out onto the pitch, warming up and seeing the crowd coming into the stadium… It was so good.”

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!

The Bedford-born star, whose second LP Evering Road debuted at No.1 on the UK albums chart earlier this year, earned rave reviews for his performance in the fundraiser. He helped Harry Redknapp’s World XI to a 3-0 victory over an England side managed by Sven-Göran Eriksson at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium; his display in the middle of the park left supporters – and his superstar teammates, no less – purring.

“To be honest with you, I thought I was man of the match,” grins Grennan. “I played the first half and Harry Redknapp said he thought he was going to have to take me off, so I was like, ‘No problem.’ But then Darren Fletcher and Nigel de Jong said, ‘There is no way you are going off right now.’ It was pretty surreal to have Nigel de Jong coming up and saying, ‘You’re still playing then, right?’ And I was like, ‘I think Harry wants me out,’ and he replied, ‘Nope, not happening. You’re staying on the pitch.’

“I’ve got to mention Darren Fletcher as well because he was unreal. He pulled me aside in training and said, ‘I can see you can play a bit.’ I’m not a nervous person; I feel like nerves are a negative thing and I had so much excitement. I was ready to show people that I could actually play, because I’d been talking about it for ages but not had the chance to show it. And I enjoyed every second.”

The biggest thrill for lifelong Manchester United fan Grennan, however, was going up against club legends Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville. “I’ve grown up watching these people and I never thought I’d ever be in a room with them, let alone a football pitch,” he says. “I always wanted to be Paul Scholes or David Beckham. Scholes was the player I studied. I wanted to be just like him, pinging balls and not panicking in possession, and luckily enough I got to meet him. My dad’s Irish and he got to meet Robbie Keane after the game, which was a dream come true. So it was mad, all of it.”

Grennan was too young to appreciate United’s famous Champions League final win over Bayern Munich in 1999 (he turned four two weeks later), but retains special memories of their most recent triumph in the competition in 2008, when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side defeated Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. “I remember being at home with a mate, who’s a United fan as well, and watching it with my dad on the TV,” he says. “I remember the goals and just that feeling of winning. It was an amazing experience because I was young, I was a proper die-hard. I still am but I lived and breathed it, do you know what I mean? I bowled into school the next day going, ‘Yeah, we’ve done it!’”

Naturally Grennan is cock-a-hoop over the surprise return of five-time Champions League and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese opened the scoring that night in the Luzhniki Stadium and also made his debut for Manchester United in the first game that Grennan ever attended: a 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford in 2003. “It’s so exciting to have him back in the team and back in the Premier League,” he says. “We’ve got good players who want to win and having Ronaldo is only going to help.”

When he’s not following the football, it’s a relief for Grennan to be back doing what he loves: he returned to the live stage at Reading and Leeds festivals over the summer and headed off on a sold-out UK headline tour in September. “It’s kind of like seeing an old friend for the first time in a while and going, ‘Bloody hell, I’ve missed you,’ but nothing has really changed,” he says. “It’s been nice to see people enjoy themselves and forget about coronavirus. Seeing people in the room, singing along and having that sense of freedom again, has been an emotional and beautiful thing.”

It was a scene reminiscent of the Stretford End when Ronaldo strode out for the home side for the first time in 12 years. Even the Portuguese couldn’t prevent United’s 2021/22 Champions League campaign from getting off to an inauspicious start though, with a shock 2-1 defeat at Young Boys in Switzerland, but Grennan is keeping the faith. “Listen, you can’t not mention Ronaldo, how much he wants to win and how many trophies he’s got under his belt. United have got a young side and I feel like they’re going to learn from him and he’s going to pull us through. Will we win it? I don’t know. I wish I could say yes, but there are some strong competitors. We’ll see. But I’ve got high hopes.”

Music
DJ Grennan’s playlist

Songs past and present find their way into the artist’s harmonious line-up

Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse

“The Queen of England, and a massive inspiration to my writing and delivery.”


3 Wheel-ups by Kano

“Just a proper banger. The flow and energy on this record are on another level.”

Underglow by Mugun

“The most exciting new rapper in the UK, from Coventry. His flow is ridiculous and lyrically on another level.”

Lucky Day by Frankie Beetlestone

“Frankie has been on tour with me doing his first ever shows and the kid is a star. The crowd have been going nuts for him every night.”

Same Cloud by Rose Gray

“Rose has also been on tour with me and she’s channelling a Róisín Murphy meets Saint Etienne vibe. Her vocal range is insane live.”

His stage has ended up being the traditional kind, complete with microphone and guitar, but there was a time when it looked like Tom Grennan would be performing in front of thousands of fans on a football pitch instead. “I played for the academies until I was 17: Luton, Northampton, Stevenage,” says the singer-songwriter, who also had a stint at Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath academy. In fact, the 26-year-old was born just three months before Jack Grealish – but they’ve gone in different directions since. “I was going to go to America because I got offered a scholarship to do a college course there and play football. But to be honest, I couldn’t pass the SATs. And I was just like, ‘You know what? It wasn’t meant to be.’”

However, next came a performance off the pitch that commanded attention. “I stopped playing football and was just mucking around with friends, starting to go to house parties and stuff like that. My mate had a karaoke machine, so one time I jumped on and people were like, ‘What? You can kind of sing...’

“Then some of the music boys at school needed a singer for their band. I didn’t know if I fancied it at first – but I ended up doing it and loved it. Then I moved to London, taught myself how to play guitar, wrote some songs and just caught the bug. I just ran with it.”

Grennan put pen to paper on a record deal with Insanity Records in 2016 and his first chart hit came in the same year as guest vocalist on Chase & Status’s All Goes Wrong; his debut LP, Lighting Matches, dropped in July 2018 and peaked at No.5.

Tom Grennan holds off United legend Wayne Rooney

In between times, the beautiful game again played a part in his career: his 2017 anthem Found What I’ve Been Looking For was chosen as the intro theme for Sky Sports’ Super Sunday coverage, as well as appearing on the FIFA 18 soundtrack. More recently he scored a hit with Ella Henderson in the shape of Let’s Go Home Together, which reached No.1 on the Official Trending Chart earlier this year.

What’s next – does he fancy the Champions League final opening ceremony? “Yeah, definitely! Hopefully one day I can do it, but we’ll see. I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully these opportunities will come my way.”

One opportunity that Grennan jumped at in September was the chance to line up alongside Roberto Carlos, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Nigel de Jong and Clarence Seedorf – not to mention Usain Bolt, as well as fellow musicians Yungblud, Big Zuu and Dermot Kennedy, among others. The occasion, of course, was charity game Soccer Aid’s landmark tenth edition, which raised a record £13m for UNICEF.

“I’m happy with how things have turned out but bloody hell, the life of a footballer,” laughs Grennan. “Soccer Aid gave us the experience of living like one for a couple of days and being in a team environment, it was an amazing thing. And then running out onto the pitch, warming up and seeing the crowd coming into the stadium… It was so good.”

Music
Penalty Pedigree

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