A host of big-name stars have thrown their weight behind The FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Alongside all FA staff and representatives of our 24 England teams, high-profile figures from across the worlds of sport and entertainment will be joining us to mark this landmark year.
Among them are...
Regarded as the greatest player in football history, the Brazilian icon will be the guest of honour when England face Brazil at Wembley Stadium on 6 February. He won three World Cups and scored an astonishing 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches during his 22-year playing career with Santos and New York Cosmos. Since retiring from the game in 1977, Pele has used his status to promote his country, as well as the work of the United Nations and UNICEF.
SIR BOBBY CHARLTON
The Manchester United legend remains England’s record scorer with an astonishing 49-goal haul. Regarded as one of the finest attacking midfielders ever, Charlton was a key part of Sir Alf Ramsey’s World Cup-winning side of 1966. He was named European Footballer of the Year shortly afterwards and won three league titles with Manchester United as well as an FA Cup. Former United boss Sir Matt Busby famously said: "There has never been a more popular footballer. He was as near perfection as man and player as it is possible to be."
The former Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham star remains England’s second highest goalscorer, with 48 goals in 80 appearances. He won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, with his six goals helping the Three Lions into the quarter-finals. Lineker was a star performer for Bobby Robson’s side at Italia 90, scoring four goals before England suffered a penalty shootout defeat by West Germany. He was also never booked or sent off during his playing career.
The Newcastle legend scored 30 goals in 63 games for England during an eight-year international career. Shearer’s finest moments for the Three Lions came during Euro 96, where his five goals helped England to the semi-finals and won him the Golden Boot. He retired from England duty in 2000 and sits joint sixth in the Three Lions’ all-time scoring charts, alongside Sir Tom Finney and Nat Lofthouse.
The captain and star of Team GB’s Paralympics football team brought the curtain down on his illustrious international career at London 2012. His remarkable tally of 128 goals in 144 internationals means he scored more than Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker put together. His scoring feats made him an icon in the world of blind football and he is now an ambassador for the sport.
The Arsenal centre-back became a mainstay for Hope Powell’s side during her 15-year England career. After making her international debut aged 19 against Scotland in 1997, she was later named The FA Women’s Premier League Player of the Year. White went on to captain her country in four major tournaments before retiring from England duty last April. She is one of English football’s most decorated players, having won 30 honours to date with the Gunners.
The defender made three appearances for England Under-21s while playing as a defender for Queens Park Rangers in 2000. Since then, he has enjoyed spells at Leeds, Watford and Burnley. Carlisle is the Chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association and is an ambassador for the Kick It Out campaign. And he can look forward to a busy schedule over the coming year. He said: “The PFA work has been on a different level to anything I’ve experienced previously. I’m also trying for a degree, am a patron for three charities, an ambassador to four others, a husband and a father of three.”
The former defender was named Celtic’s Player of the Year in 1991 before enjoying a two-year stint with Italian side Pisa. He joined Chelsea in the summer of 1991 but sustained a career-ending knee injury a year later and was forced into retirement. Elliott has since achieved success as a pundit in the media and was awarded the OBE in 2003 for his work with young players and his involvement with anti-racism initiatives in football. Earlier this year, he was named as the recipient of the CBE in the New Year’s honours list for his services to equality and diversity in football.
The Yorkshireman is one of the world’s most experienced officials and has taken charge of over 200 Premier League games and every domestic final including the 2009 FA Cup Final. A FIFA Elite Referee, he has refereed the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup Finals, and was most recently one of 12 referees involved in UEFA Euro 2012.
The effervescent golfer steered Europe to one of the most dramatic Ryder Cup comebacks in history when he inspired the miracle at Medinah in 2012. At one stage, Jose Maria Olazabal’s men trailed the USA 10-4 but Poulter’s stunning displays on the greens in Chicago galvanised his compatriots and they went on to record an amazing 14 ½ - 13 ½ victory. And the keen Arsenal fan has now turned his attentions to helping The FA mark its 150th year. Poulter said: “I was proud to be asked to be an ambassador for The FA during their 150th year. It’s an impressive milestone for any organisation to reach.”
Long before he shot to fame with his gold medal-winning performance in the long jump at the London 2012 Olympics, Rutherford had a spell on trial with Aston Villa. The 26-year-old revealed: “My great-grandfather played for Arsenal and Newcastle and he won 11 caps for England as well. I’m a Manchester United fan, though. My dad supported them, so I decided to as well. But I was born in 1986 and United weren’t very good in the ‘80s. So I’m not really a glory hunter – honest!”
DAME SARAH STOREY
The 35-year-old is Great Britain's most decorated female Paralympian, having won 11 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals across six Paralympic Games. She is one of the world’s most versatile athletes, having won gold in both swimming and cycling across 11 different events. Storey topped the medal table for Team GB at London 2012 with four gold medals from four events, including an impressive world record in the Women's C5 cycling 3000m Individual Pursuit. Her achievements were given the royal seal of approval when she was made a Dame in the New Year’s honours list.
Great Britain’s heptathlon legend won gold – and the hearts of the nation – with a stunning performance at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Since retiring from athletics in 2004, Lewis has played a key role in promoting the sport and was an ambassador for London 2012. She was a guest of honour at the 2012 FA Women’s Awards, underlining her support for growing participation in sport.
The Olympian won gold in the lightweight double scull at the 2008 Games in Beijing with rowing partner Zac Purchase and the pair then scooped silver at London 2012. West Ham fan Hunter, 34, admits his desire to once again prove himself at the top level could yet see him compete for Team GB at the 2016 Games in Rio. He said: "It is the mentality to go out and want to be the best. It's a great way to look at sport now in this country. Everyone wants to go out there and win."
The X Factor star is a huge football fan and regularly cheers on his boyhood idols Manchester United at Old Trafford. His celebrity status even led him to be invited to sing at a very special United gig. Murs said: “I sang at Darren Fletcher’s wedding. It was after I came off the X Factor and he and his wife were big fans of the show. It was really good and Darren is a top, top player.” Murs will achieve a lifelong dream when he supports Robbie Williams at Wembley Stadium in the summer of 2013.