Our global partner invited representatives from Hong Kong, Thailand, Shanghai, Japan, Sydney, India, Beijing, Poland, Glasgow, North Devon, South Wales, Anglesey, Italy and New York to take part. The teams were split into an Asia XI, managed by 1984 UEFA Cup-winning captain, Graham Roberts, and a Rest of the World XI, led by 1961 Double-winner, Cliff Jones.
The teams received the full match treatment, starting in the very dressing rooms used by home and away teams for Premier League matches. They were supplied with personalised kit and even a new pair of boots courtesy of Under Armour. Both legends gave inspirational team talks to players before they emerged out of the tunnel and ran onto the pitch with the match-day music blaring. Fans were pitch-side to cheer them on and team photographs were taken before kick-off.
Despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Nathan Slaymaker of Hong Kong Spurs – voted Asia XI’s Man of the Match – it was a comfortable 6-1 win for the Rest of the World XI team, largely thanks to four goals from Anglesey Spurs’ John Jones, also voted Man of the Match for his team.
After the match, the players enjoyed a hard-earned lunch with the legends and coaches, and both sides’ Man of the Match – chosen by Graham and Cliff – received a signed first team home shirt as a reward for their outstanding play.
Mike Geraghty, player-manager of the Asia XI, summed up the day: “It was a dream come true for all of us. Having the chance to play on this pitch where so many legends have set foot before and receiving coaching from both Graham and Cliff has given each of us an experience we will never forget. Of course, sharing the experience together with our team mates from back home was a real added bonus.”
Mohammed Nazir, from the Singapore Spurs Supporters Club, commented: “The match was tough and the Rest of the World team were strong opposition, but we got some good coaching from Graham at half-time and managed to pull it back a little. We were completely wrecked at the end, but just felt elated to have had the chance to play on that pitch – it’s something we’ve all dreamed about since we were kids!”
Meanwhile, “a tough but exhilarating 90 minutes” was how Nathan Slaymaker described up the match. “However it was a great honour and privilege to play on the hallowed White Hart Lane pitch,” he continued. “Standing between the same sticks as some of my heroes, Clemence, Jennings, Parks, Daines and Thorstvedt was a dream come true - and to be named Man of the Match for team Asia was even more remarkable and a story I will be telling for years to come!"
The ‘Play on the Pitch’ experience was a way in which AIA chose to celebrate their new long-term partnership with Spurs, by recognizing the Supporters for the important role they play. “We are truly delighted to have been able to provide this opportunity for Supporters from around the world,” said Catherine Gibbs, Head of Sponsorship for AIA. “It was inspiring to have witnessed first-hand the level of passion, excitement and appreciation they all demonstrated on the pitch and around their love for the Club. We look forward to working closely with Spurs to develop more unique experiences for fans and our stakeholders alike, especially in Asia.”
To find out how you can join one of our 100 Official Supporters Clubs, or to start up your own branch, visit tottenhamhotspur.com/supporters-club
For more information on AIA and details of our five year partnership, please click here.