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Mike Delaney

Interview: Mike Delaney

Byline: Baktosch Gillan  



Mike Delaney, 28, has become regarded as one of the UK's premier professional football freestylers over the last 10 years, and is part of the Kaos Football team. Mike has worked alongside the world's greatest footballers in a number of television commercials, teaching and choreographing skills to household names such as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Sir Bobby Charlton and Peter Kay! 


Having also realised his dream of playing professional football in Germany and Switzerland, Mike attained FA and UEFA coaching qualifications and set up his own Skills Academy where every week up to 1000 children are encouraged to develop basic skills and more advanced moves as well as learning about the football ethos of fair play and respect.



Mike Delaney

Interview: My professional playing career started in 1997 when I was 19 and working as a body double for Alessandro Del Piero on an Adidas set in Germany. The choreographer, former German international Hansi Mueller, saw me playing and asked if I would like to have a go at playing professionally in Germany.

Mike subsequently trialled at VFB Stuttgart who spent the next two years tracking his progress as he had professional spells at, Ludwigsburg, Waldhof Mannheim in Germany and then Schaffhausen in Switzerland.  However, Mike decided that living abroad and away from his close family and friends was just not for him. He returned to England to pursue his dream of starting his own coaching schools and seeing if he could further establish himself in the world of football advertising. Now, I have worked on lots of different commercials, either performing or choreographing.


The first one I did with Nike was the Scorpion Cage ad back in 2001. In the John Smith's commercial with Peter Kay, I was the one performing the tricks.  I also choreographed the Carling street match in Glasgow. It's great working with these guys - sometimes surreal.  I never dreamed I could earn a living performing my skills at matches and in commercials. The players are always very complementary towards me and I'm always amazed when one of them asks me to do a trick in front of them. People are surprised when I say I'm not awestruck by them.


I have a lot of respect for them because I know from personal experience how hard it is to make it to the highest level of professional football! However, I am confident in what I do in terms of performing the tricks, know how the commercials are made and how they should look because I have done so many of them now. It is all about relating to the players, making them look good and playing to their strengths - I always tailor the tricks to the individual footballer as for example not all players can do what Ronaldinho can do, so you always pick a trick relative to a players' special skill level.  

I have recently been involved with a couple of commercials alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, for Coca Cola and Fuji, where I was dressed as an old man and it was funny to see his reaction after realising this old guy juggling the ball was me. I am also due to perform at the World Cup in Germany and am hoping to develop the coaching business here and possibly in Los Angeles and Australia.   







Mike Delaney

I think the reason freestyling has become so popular is that it is entertaining. It's about condensing skills into a five-minute show with the balance, concentration and control that are all required in football. Although a lot of the elements of playing in a match are missing, freestyling is a fun part of football and it is a great way of attracting kids to the game. Also, freestyling helps you develop a great feel for the ball, especially your first touch, so that ultimately; this helps you become a better player on the pitch.

When freestyling first became popular a few years ago I thought it could just be a phase but it has grown so much that it is almost at the stage of being a recognised sport or event with a governing body, with Kaos Football looking after the best guys with the likes of myself and Mr Woo. The team concept of freestyling is obviously the next level and that is what the football commercials are trying to achieve. 


I think my playing background has helped me because I can do the freestyle moves and also put them into match situations, which is what Kaos Football is about - a group of freestylers working together so it looks real and entertaining.  Once there is a format of grading one individual or team against another, it could become really exciting to watch.