Prince William has long been campaigning for better mental health, especially amongst men, using football as a means to get people talking. Furthering this Heads Up work, The Duke of Cambridge – president of the FA – has recorded a podcast episode with Peter Crouch.
The episode was recorded in March, before lockdown, at Kensington Palace, with Crouch, Tom Fordyce and Chris Stark. The Royal invited them to his Kensington Palace home in March, before they finished the episode via video call earlier this month, for That Peter Crouch Podcast, a BBC radio production.
The group enjoyed beer, curry and snacks together, as they talked about football, and mental health. William answered a knock at the room door and was handed a takeaway curry from Peter’s local Indian in Ealing, west London.
William quipped: “There’s an Uber driver out there on the floor being frisked!”
His favourite Indian dish, he explained is “Chicken masala, love that, a bit of flavour – I’m not a vindaloo man, put it that way.”
"There's an Uber driver out there… being frisked"
Prince William organised a special delivery for @petercrouch on #ThatPeterCrouchPodcast 🍛
More on his guest appearance here: https://t.co/mFMxuUYpkc pic.twitter.com/Oja2rmXTQJ
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) July 29, 2020
The Royal explained he “desperately” didn’t want to support “someone like Manchester United or Chelsea,” like everyone else at school, and so chose Birmingham club, Aston Villa. William became a ‘Villain’ during his first trip to an FA Cup game – Aston Villa vs Bolton – when he was 11.
“I sat there among all the Villa fans and I loved it. I thought the atmosphere was great,” he recalls.
“I felt a real connection with the club,” he says. “I felt Villa was a very proud Midlands club and it felt very special,” mentioning that Villa won the European Cup in 1982, the same year he was born.
“Only in the last few years have I got a grip of Villa as my real team and I watch them a lot and I get into the stats.”
Asked if football was his “release”, the Duke said: “It is now. Since becoming a dad, without a doubt, football has become way more important than it used to be.
“I need to go and be amongst other guys and let out some steam, shout a bit,” he explains, joking he stops short of abusing the referee. “I’m the president of the FA and I can’t do that!”
William added: “It has become a lot more relevant to me and I need it. Talking about football helps a lot.”
Ex-footballer Peter Crouch mentioned that he had felt happy to open up about his feelings when he took part in a changing room chat with The Duke of Cambridge and other professional footballers last year.
"Whenever I go in an England dressing room, there does always feel a lot more pressure, like you can feel it."
Ahead of the #HeadsUpFACupFinal, That Peter Crouch Podcast meets Prince William!
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 29, 2020
William revealed that he still wears shin pads to play six-a-side – also describing his defending style as a ‘fat knacker running around at the back, panting’ – as he is so often ‘targeted’ by other players, much like he was in school. A funny anecdote was also shared, as he tried to ward off would-be attackers…
“A long time ago, I got one of my policemen to take a laser pen out with them. And I got him to red mark, red dot one of the players.
‘I was about 15 at the time, I said, “see, he’s following you, following you”.’
Crouch asked: “Pretending to have a sniper on him?”
“Exactly… ” the Duke said. “It put him off for about, you know, ten minutes.’
Of course, conversation turned to young football fan, Prince George, who was seen excitedly celebrating in October at an Aston Villa match in Norfolk, attending with his mum, dad and sister.
William joked about Prince George’s future football career, commenting that not only could he see eldest his son playing for Villa, but that he could also become their top goal scorer!
“What if he [Prince George] got really good at football? Can he do the job and be up front for Villa?” the Duke was asked.
“Yeah, definitely, I reckon he could,” came the royal reply, with a grin. “I recokon he could be their all-time goal scorer. I can see no reason why not.”
He also said he was trying to let George ‘choose his own way’ when it came to supporting a team.
We’ve got Prince William passing the pod 😂👑
Few beers, a curry and a proper good chat.
I can’t believe it.
— Chris Stark (@Chris_Stark) July 29, 2020
Talk also turned to partners, with Crouch confessing he bought wife Abbey a raincoat three years running.
The Duke shared his own story: the worst present he had bought wife Catherine was a pair of binoculars, and “she’s never let me forget that.”
“It didn’t go well. Honestly, I have no idea why I bought her a pair of binoculars, it seemed like a good idea at the time,” he added.
William has also helped to rename the 2020 FA Cup final the Heads Up FA Cup final.
“We’re hoping that renaming it is a big enough statement that the UK will show the world, and the football world in particular, that mental health really matters,” William told the group Crouch.