Entertainment

Damian Lewis: Featuring in Faces Of Soccer Aid exhibition ‘a real honour'

Liam Payne, Vicky McClure, Usain Bolt and Mo Farah also appear in the portrait exhibition which is raising funds for Unicef.

Damian Lewis has said it was a “real honour” to have his portrait taken by photographer Andy Gotts for a new exhibition which is raising funds for Unicef.

The Homeland actor, who is among the 32-strong collection titled Faces Of Soccer Aid, urged the public to “bid generously” for the prints of the artworks which are being offered at auction, so the charity can “continue helping children worldwide”.

Soccer Aid stars Liam Payne, Vicky McClure, Usain Bolt and Mo Farah also feature in the exhibition being displayed at Maddox Gallery in London until October 9.

Former One Direction singer Liam Payne captained England in the 2022 Soccer Aid match (Unicef UK/PA)

Lewis, who has been in the Soccer Aid England squad on a number of occasions over the years, said: “I have huge admiration for Andy Gott’s work. Not only has he photographed some of the biggest names in the industry, but he does so in such a considered way, creating timeless pieces that always so perfectly reflect the personality of the subject.

“It was a real honour to have my portrait taken by him, and I hope that the public will bid generously so that Unicef UK can continue helping children worldwide to have the same happy childhoods many of us have experienced.”

During the 2022 match in June, Olympic champion Bolt captained the Soccer Aid World XI team while former One Direction singer Payne captained England.

Olympic champion sprinter Bolt encouraged people to “bid big” in the auction, adding: “The money raised is so important in helping Unicef do what they do for children, and you might take home a unique piece of Andy’s iconic work.”

Usain Bolt and Sir Mo Farah (Unicef/PA)

As part of the collection, Bolt also posed alongside four-time Olympic champion Farah for a series of silly faces.

Long-distance runner Farah said that when he was shooting the photos with Bolt he was thinking about their shared experience of competing in the London 2012 Olympics.

He added: “Andy Gotts was saying – give me a serious face, give me a good face, and we’re saying to each other ‘I’m cooler than you, no I’m cooler than you’, and we’re both looking at the camera going ‘I look cool’.”

Line Of Duty actress McClure said she had the “best time” when she helped coach the Three Lions alongside Harry Redknapp this year.

She added: “It’s great to relive that experience through these incredible photos.

“The photograph of me and Martin (Compston) is a favourite and sums up our friendship.

“But more importantly, all the proceeds from this photographic series will go towards Unicef UK, so that they can continue their work helping millions of children have safe and happy childhoods in 190 countries worldwide – so get bidding.”

Andy Gotts with Sir Mo Farah by his portrait at the launch of Faces Of Soccer Aid’ (Daniel Hambury/Unicef/Soccer Aid Productions/Stella Pictures/PA)

Singer Rita Ora, who is a Unicef UK ambassador and performed at the 2019 Soccer Aid half-time show, also gave her support to the portrait exhibition.

She said: “I’m a big fan of Andy Gott’s work, and so it’s brilliant to see that he’s collaborating with Soccer Aid to raise money for Unicef UK.

“I’ve seen first-hand how incredibly important Unicef is, having visited their work in my home country, Kosovo, in 2019 – from where my parents and I fled to the UK as a child.

“I know the money raised from the exclusive prints sold will make a huge difference by helping Unicef to continue its work in countries such as Ukraine, where right now 7.5 million children are affected by the war, and a staggering 9.1 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.”

The exhibition includes portraits of celebrity players Idris Elba, Olly Murs, David Harewood and Robbie Williams.

Also featured are former football stars including Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Cafu and Jamie and Harry Redknapp.

The Faces Of Soccer Aid by Andy Gotts exhibition runs until October 9.