Chesney Hawkes plots return to Qatar World Cup after ‘whirlwind’ week

The singer performed The One and Only during the group B clash between England and Wales.

Wales v England – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group B – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Wales v England – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group B – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

Chesney Hawkes said he is enjoying his “craziest whirlwind week since 1991” as he plots dashing from Skegness to Qatar to continue supporting England’s World Cup bid.

The singer performed his chart hit The One and Only on the pitch during the interval of England’s 3-0 win over Wales, as a drab goalless first half gave way to an entertaining second.

Hawkes mixed with England players after the full-time whistle, who described him as their “lucky charm”, and backed them to go all the way in the tournament.

Wales v England – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group B – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium
Former singer Chesney Hawkes before the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar. Picture date: Tuesday November 29, 2022 (Adam Davy/PA)

Three Lions and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice called for the singer to return for more half-time shows during the World Cup, with Hammers fan Hawkes joking: “If Declan Rice wants me there, I’m there.”

Hawkes is planning to make a return to Qatar for Sunday’s second round game with Senegal, explaining he has a gig at Butlin’s in the Lincolnshire coastal town of Skegness on Saturday night.

He told the PA news agency: “I think I’ll probably be going back to Doha.

“It’s going to be another non-sleeping event going direct from Skegness to get an early flight from Heathrow to get over to Doha in time for the match so that’s the plan at the moment.

“It’s still not confirmed, whether that will happen or not, I don’t know but I think whatever happens I’ll be there for the game, whether I perform or not is another thing.”

Hawkes, speaking from Surrey, earlier said of recent days: “I would say it’s been the craziest whirlwind week since 1991 for me.”

He said he had been on a 32-date tour with his band, adding: “I was finishing the day before that England game.

“My manager a couple of days before said ‘how do you fancy not sleeping that night after the last show and travelling to Doha and doing the England game?’ and I was like ‘yes, I’ll do that’.

“I’m a big football fan and I just wanted to kind of lap up the atmosphere of the World Cup so I did it and I didn’t really know what to expect, I turned up there and the way it all happened was crazy.

“It was 0-0 at half-time, bit of a boring game, I went on and did my thing and the boys came out and scored three goals.

“I got to meet all the players, I’m a big Hammer and got to meet Declan Rice and he was so nice, they were all kind of giving me cuddles and saying ‘you should come back for the next game, you’re our lucky charm’.”

Wales v England – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group B – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Chesney Hawkes performs at half time during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar. Picture date: Tuesday November 29, 2022 (Nick Potts/PA)

On Rice’s comments, he said: “That’s hilarious, just so funny. Obviously, I would never claim that it was anything to do with me – that was all down to the team and Gareth (Southgate) but I’m so made up.

“As a football fan I was like a wide-eyed kid meeting my idols.”

Asked why the number one hit, released in 1991, got fans in a mood for a good time, Hawkes replied: “I guess the same reason that it stood the test of time, the same reason it was a hit, it’s a very kind of self-empowering song, it’s one of those kind of anthemic tunes that gets people on their feet, fills dancefloors and gets some fists pumping.

“I think it has all of those kinds of elements that work with a crowd, I definitely saw that in the stadium.

“I was a little apprehensive playing to 60,000 football fans but I needn’t have been worried because it was a goosebumps moment.”

Hawkes dismissed reports that he has been tinkering with the lyrics to include England references.

He said: “I haven’t actually, that’s not right.

“I’ve had lots and lots of messages from people saying ‘you should re-write it’ but I haven’t done anything and there’s no truth to that at all.”

On his hopes for England in the tournament, he added: “My hopes are we go forth and win the whole thing.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t – we’re as good as any of the other teams in the competition.

“Perhaps Brazil are looking the favourites still I guess, the French will be tough if we get through Senegal, but I have every faith in the team.

“And having spent a little bit of time with some of the boys, I can really see the camaraderie, the love they have for each other and the confidence and spirit in the team.”

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