Prince William gave the British soccer team a morale boost heading into the FIFA World Cup next week.
The Prince of Wales made a surprise appearance at the soccer squad’s headquarters on Monday evening to help hand out the team’s new World Cup jerseys to all twenty-six players. He told the athletes, “I’m really here to just kind of point out that the rest of the country’s behind you. We’re all rooting for you. Enjoy it.” William also received an England jersey of his own signed by the entire team as their gift to the royal, who also serves as the president of the Football Association. “What you and Gareth have built here is something special, that’s clear to see,” the prince told the group, referring to the role their coach Gareth Southgate has played in leading the team to so many victories, including making it to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. The royal added, “Play for each other, support each other, enjoy it and I’m sure you’ll go far.”
Southgate said that the evening was “a nice moment to be with the group and Prince William, who has been a huge supporter of ours.” He added, regarding the royal’s decision to hand out the jerseys personally, “I know how passionate the players are about their country and it was great to see what it meant to each of them as they came forward. As staff and players, we are all so privileged to represent England and we are excited to see what’s possible together. We want to make the fans proud again.”
The evening began with William presenting the team’s captain Harry Kane with his jersey, the same player who also sat down with the royal earlier this month along with his teammate Declan Rice to discuss their mental health in the lead up to the World Cup. Kane told the prince during that conversation, “Talking here about different stuff, highs and lows that we’ve been through as players. That’s my aim is to—especially to the younger generation—talk to them and try and provide ways of talking about mental health and wellbeing. The more we talk about it, and open up, it will definitely help solve and hopefully encourage people not to be afraid to ask for help, especially when you are feeling a little bit lower.” William noted, “It’s important to have people who catch us a little bit when we’re down.”
Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.