Not many footballers can say they’ve played alongside Beckham, Ronaldo and Neymar. But Andrew Henderson is not your average footballer. He’s been the world’s freestyle football champion for five years running, winning his first world title in 2011 before performing at both the Olympics and the Football World Cup Finals. Here he tells us what his life is really like…
Tell us about how you first got into freestyle football?
I actually started out as a rugby player but was also into all my sports. When I was 16, I broke my leg in five places and was told I would never be able to walk again. I worked hard and made a full recovery thankfully, and that’s when I started doing freestyle and loved it!
What’s the best bit of your job?
I love travelling, so my freestyle makes sure I can do that. I’ve had some amazing experiences going to different countries. Most recently I went to Thailand to teach kids freestyle. Times like that make me so happy and I feel very proud and privileged to do something that I love.
I really enjoy supporting young, up and coming talent. I’ve now retired from freestyling competitively but I created the UK Football Freestyling Championship so that other amateur freestylers across the UK & Ireland have a platform to develop their own careers.
It’s a combination of both sport and art but more importantly for me, it’s a way of self-expression
What’s the worst part?
This is my passion and my dream so I tend to work a lot because I love it. I think if you are really going to make your passion project a reality, you need make sure that you enjoy it most of the time. It’s not all plain sailing of course, so the worst part is probably accepting that you can’t control everything and things just don’t go the way that you always plan.
How much time do you spend training? What’s an average day look like for you?
I train every day for a couple of hours freestyling and then head to the gym. Every day is different for me, which I love. One day I could be on the other side of the world choreographing moves for some of the world’s greatest footballers, other days I could be at home in Cornwall, hanging out with the family, taking the dogs for a walk and enjoying some time off. I don’t take too much time off because my passion is my job but I do realise a break is necessary to make sure your mind and body is rested and relaxed.
Is freestyle football more sport or performance art?
It’s a combination of both sport and art but more importantly for me, it’s a way of self-expression. I practise every day to make sure that when I’m doing a live performance, I can show off my skills that I’ve worked so hard to perfect.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
All sorts, but it’s got to be winning 5 World Championships, 8 UK National Championships and multiple Guinness World Records under my belt.