PRINCE William showed off his footballing skills yesterday in a kickabout with youngsters on his visit to a sports development project in Newcastle.
He was spending the morning at the Football Association’s Hat-Trick project, which provides football opportunities for seven-to 16-year-olds.
In his role as FA president, William, 25, donned a white top, blue tracksuit bottoms and odd socks – a tradition from his Eton schooldays – as he took to the pitch with students at the Centre for Sports at West Gate Community College.
Earlier, he looked chatty and relaxed in a classroom discussion on fair play with local primary school children and youngsters from the Centrepoint charity.
Naseem Haque, nine, met William during the class. He said: “He was really, really nice and not as formal as I expected.
“He’s really fun when he’s talking to you, but I don’t know why he supports Aston Villa. I wanted to persuade him to support Newcastle United.”
Steven Taylor, the Newcastle United defender and captain of England’s Under 21s, joined William in the classroom.
He said: “It’s amazing. It’s an honour to be here. The kids’ faces lit up when he walked through the door.” The second in line to the throne, wearing one red sock for Sports Relief and one Eton sock, was kept on his toes during a warm-up with 16- to 18-year-olds from the college’s football academy.
During shooting practice it was a case of third time lucky for William. He then played in a five-a-side tournament in which primary school teams represented the countries in last month’s Women’s World Cup.
Playing for the “China” team from Our Lady and St Anne’s school, he joined in a group huddle with his team-mates, aged nine and 10, and shared high fives with the goal scorers.
William then presented the Fair Play award for the most sporting team, China, to team captain Patrick Clark. Patrick, nine, said: “He was very nice. He said I was like a mini-Wayne Rooney when I scored.”
Jermaine Goode, 21, a newly-trained coach from the homeless charity Centrepoint, travelled from London for the occasion and refereed William’s match.
He said: “I was very nervous. You don’t get to ref a prince at every game. The children loved him – they were all jumping up at him and you could tell they had a blast.
“He’s down to earth and he’s one in a million. There aren’t many in his position that would do something like that.”