HE is the star of Hollywood blockbusters including ‘Atonement’, ‘Wanted’ and the ‘X-Men’ series. However this September, Celtic fan and actor James McAvoy is trading the glitz and glamour of the silver screen for the turf of East End Park, as he becomes the latest addition to the Celtic Legends’ squad for the Jock Stein 30th Anniversary Charity Match, sponsored by Direct Slating Supplies.
This occasion marks the second time that McAvoy will be pulling on the Hoops for charity as he starred in the Maestrio match last year, notably netting a memorable penalty.
The actor, originally from Drumchapel, spoke to the official Celtic website about his memories from the Maestrio match and why it was such a rewarding experience.
He said: “The highlight of the Maestrio game was getting to celebrate scoring a penalty with my mate, Martin Compston.
“Just being on the pitch when all the Celtic fans were going crazy, I never thought that ever would happen.
“It felt like a dream but to do it for real, and to do it to benefit charity, it was something that felt really good and positive.
“I think everyone had a really good time that day, from everyone who spent their money to come and see it, to everyone who ran about – even if they weren’t fit enough to do it!
“The whole experience was just a very positive, brilliant thing and my family and friends were in the stands and it was great to share all of that with them too.”
Last time around, the actor confidently converted a spot kick to the delight of the Celtic Park crowd but the X-Men star revealed that there was actually some contention over who was hitting the penalty.
He said: “When the penalty was awarded last time, Stan Petrov actually came up and said that he was taking it but I hadn’t realised as Martin Compston had already been up to me and told me that I was taking it.
“Stan was strolling through all the players expecting to hit the penalty and out of nowhere this five foot seven actor steps up to take it.
McAvoy jokingly added: “If it were to happen this time and if Stan wants to hit it, I’m certainly not going to argue with him!”
Despite being firmly established in Hollywood and frequently rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the acting world, McAvoy is adamant that he is still in awe of the players he grew up watching.
He said: “I remember being quite star-struck around John Hartson and Lubo Moravcik, Lubo – along with Henrik Larsson – is one of my all time favourite Celtic players, so to get the opportunity to play with him was absolutely nuts.
“I also got a bit star-struck around Frank McAvennie but he was just such a laugh, he put me at ease quite quickly.”
A lifelong Celtic fan, the Glaswegian actor also spoke passionately about the legendary Jock Stein and the importance of honouring the club’s charitable beginnings and identity.
He said: “Jock Stein and everything he achieved, it’s part of what has made Celtic a special club, and not just a club that happens to be in a huge city with a vocal support.
“What makes this club something else, it’s not just that night in Lisbon, it’s the entire journey towards that night.
“It’s also that star on the strip that very few teams get to wear that puts Celtic in a different place.
“It’s so important to support Celtic in the vein that they were originated, as a charity that reached out to the community and continues to do so through Celtic FC Foundation.
“Although not their entire remit, Celtic FC Foundation are trying to address issues of poverty and things like that in and around the city.
“As a person, I think that’s hugely important and as a fan, I don’t think you can ever overestimate or overstate what Jock Stein did for the club.”
Celtic Legends’ Squad So Far
Manager: Murdo MacLeod
The Jock Stein 30th Anniversary Charity Match takes place on Sunday, September 6 at East End Park (KO 2pm).
Tickets for the match, priced at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions, are available ONLINE, by calling 0871 226 1888* or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office.
Matchday Hospitality is available, on a first come, first served basis, in the Purvis Suite at a cost of £45 per person, or supporters can upgrade to a pitch-side box for an additional price of £100 per person.
Proceeds from the day will be shared between Celtic FC Foundation and the Pars Foundation, the respective charitable arms of both clubs
*Calls cost 13 pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. For customer enquiries relating to existing purchases only, please call 0141 230 1967. Calls charged at standard rate.