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.
Who’s your current favourite football player and why?
I really enjoy watching up and coming national players. I’m really excited to see how we do in the next few tournaments as these young guys have so much more to come from them. I’m also closely following Ronaldo’s progress at Juventus – I think if he does well there he will go down as one of the greatest footballers in history.
Ronaldinho has always been amazingly skilful. Neymar and Marcelo are also very, very good
Who’s the best footballer at tricks?
Ronaldinho has always been amazingly skilful. Neymar and Marcelo are also very, very good. Christian Fuchs has got some awesome tricks up his sleeve too!
Can you tell us about the campaign with Huawei that you are working on?
To mark the launch of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Huawei has identified a new tribe of people, like me, called the New Working Order – young people who are building their own careers with multiple side hustles and passion projects.
I’m working with Huawei to help these young people take their passions to the next level, by awarding them a £10,000 bursary. It’s a great initiative and something I wish I’d had starting out! Research that Huawei conducted with Goldsmiths University showed that while over half of Gen Z already have a passion project on the side, two thirds say that a lack of funding is acting as barrier to them pursuing their dream. Hopefully we can change that for someone!
Anyone who is interested just needs to submit a personal statement of 500 words to here by 10th December, then I’ll pick my winner. I can’t wait to see the entries – and remember to pick me as your judge!
For your chance to win a £10,000 creative bursary or Huawei Mate 20 Pro visit here by 10 December 2018.
Watch him below showing Cristiano Ronaldo how it's done…