Prince William Shows He's Not Playing Around When It Comes to Soccer

The Duke of Cambridge joined a beloved former soccer pro and a Member of Parliament on Thursday to support a fan-led initiative to improve the sport

Duke of Cambridge visit to Dulwich Hamlet FC
Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/WPA Pool/Shutterstock

It's well known that Prince William is a serious soccer fan, and the prince is putting his passion for the pitch into action.

William, 39, visited Dulwich Hamlet club in southeast London on Thursday afternoon, joining forces with podcaster and former soccer star Peter Crouch to keep the ball rolling on a new initiative.

William's meeting with players, club management and football fans from a range of clubs was the next step in the Fan Led Review, a program set up in April 2021 to provide a comprehensive examination of the English football system and explore ways of improving the governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs across all levels of the sport.

Duke of Cambridge visit to Dulwich Hamlet FC
Kirsty O'Connor/WPA Pool/Shutterstock

William greeted Crouch – who is director of football at Dulwich Hamlet -- with a fist bump and they joked about the take-away meal they shared over a podcast recording (William joined the That Peter Crouch Podcast host, who interviewed the prince to help publicize the Heads Up mental health campaign last year.) "The last time I saw you we were having a curry, now you've got a proper job!" William told him.

William, who is President of the Football Association, was intrigued about Dulwich Hamlet's close relationship with fans, asking, "What is it about the model here that's worked so well? What's the best practice that can be replicated elsewhere?"

When he was told that the prices were kept low, enabling more 2,000 fans to come in for weekend matches, he quipped that they could be in for some new entertainment: "Crouchy will do a half time dance!" (Crouch was known for his robot dance when he scored goals.)

A group of supporters from clubs around the country, including Tottenham Hotspur, Charlton Athletic and Blyth Spartans, were also there to talk to the prince. And he asked them, "Where do you feel we are on a scale of fans being listened to by clubs?"

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Duke of Cambridge visit to Dulwich Hamlet FC
Kirsty O'Connor/WPA Pool/Shutterstock

William is said to want to ensure that the review remains at the front of people's minds, and he hopes to boost the voices of the fans he considers central to the future of football.

The Fan Led Review is chaired by Member of Parliament Tracey Crouch (no relation), who also joined William in the discussions on Thursday, when representatives from both on and off the pitch offered their opinions on the Review's initial findings and discussed the importance of grassroots and lower league clubs, as well as how to support them.

Dulwich was an apt setting — with around 2,400 people watching their games each week, it's the most attended club outside the main Football League, so they have some knowledge of how the sport survives away from the more glamorous Premier League and the international game.

And perhaps as a bit of prep for Thursday's event, William went to see his favorite team, Aston Villa, take on Chelsea in West London on Wednesday evening. Sadly for him, Villa did not win and was knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalty kicks.

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