There’s only one week left until Euro 2020 kicks off and with England, Wales and Scotland among the 24 teams going for the win, the excitement ahead of the tournament is boiling.
Between the opening match on June 11 and the final at Wembley a month later, old rivalries will be renewed across the continent.
England hope to play that showpiece at their national stadium, but according to a famous Welshman, the Three Lions are already 1-0 down.
Robbie Savage pranked Rio Ferdinand to have him painted draped in a Welsh flag
For this year’s tournament, official Euro 2020 partner Heineken are looking to celebrate the rivalry and they recruited former Wales star Robbie Savage to get one over English legend Rio Ferdinand.
The pair were once rivals on the pitch and since putting up their boots they have become friends and sparring partners in the TV studio as experts.
In this hilarious joke, former England defender Ferdinand thinks he’ll be inducted into the Heineken Hall of Fame with a special painting commissioned to mark the occasion.
Ferdinand is no stranger to pranking people himself – just check out Rio’s World Cup Wind-Ups or take a look at his YouTube – so Savage was eager to turn the tables.
First, Ferdinand has to pose for the portrait, unaware that Savage is looking outside the camera.
The punch line is delivered when the ‘artist’ reveals the painting of Ferdinand, who has 81 English caps to his name, draped in a Wales flag and holding a bunch of daffodils.
Ferdinand admits as soon as he saw Savage at the reveal that he knew he was attached
Ex-Wales star Savage wanted to fuel national rivalry with former England defender
The awkward silence is broken by an embarrassed Ferdinand who laughs and finally says, “Oh man…. That flag and I don’t mix. We are not the same. I’m not from Wales, I’m English.’
“I’m pretty sure Wales was on the internet,” the vlogger says.
Ferdinand replies, “Don’t worry, it’s fine, but you’ll have to take it back,” before Savage storms in and puts the Englishman out of his misery.
When the dust settled, Ferdinand said, “I was truly honored to be selected for the Hall of Fame and I had no idea what to expect.
‘My first reaction to the painting is that the artist had done me a favor with the calves, but then I saw the shirt and the flag of Wales, the daffodils. I played 81 times for England and I’m not going to be showcased as a rival Welshman!
Ex-England star Ferdinand was shocked when he looked like a proud Welshman
“After the initial shock I started to get pretty excited but then my buddy Robbie showed up with a huge grin on his face and I realized I was well attached and he was just fueling the rivalry for the tournament just starting.
“Since Wales reached the semi-finals in 2016 and England failed, I’ve had to put up with Savage’s jokes and chatter about Wales’ superiority. Now I have to figure out a way to get him back.”
Savage said: ‘Rio is a proud Englishman and a legendary prankster in his own right, so planning to persuade him had to be meticulous. It was brilliant to watch his ego swell and then crash back to earth with a bunch of daffodils in his hand and carrying the Welsh flag. 1-0 to Wales.’
England beat Wales in the Euro 2016 group stage, but it was the Dragons who had the last laugh. They finished first in the section after victories over Slovakia and Russia and reached the last four where they lost to eventual winner Portugal after goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani – two former teammates of Ferdinand.
For England, a shocking last-16 defeat to Iceland marked the end of Roy Hodgson’s stint as manager.
Savage wasn’t going to let Ferdinand forget by saying, ‘Wales finished in last before England, the group headlined, remember?’
England defeated Wales to win 2-1 at Euro 2016 thanks to a late goal from Daniel Sturridge, but it was Wales that reached the semi-finals
“Still not won,” Rio replied.
England will kick off their campaign on June 13 at Wembley against Croatia – the team that knocked them out in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals – before the delightful clash with Auld Enemy Scotland five days later. Gareth Southgate’s men will finish in Group D against the Czech Republic on June 22.
Wales will face Switzerland for the first time in Baku on June 12, before taking on Turkey four days later, then Group A favorites Italy in Rome on Sunday, June 20.
Michael Gillane, UK Marketing Director for Heineken said: ‘UEFA Euro 2020 is finally here! As an official partner, we know that friendly rivalry is an important part of the tournament for fans and we wanted to illustrate that football isn’t half as much fun without your rivals.”