Remember the days when football meant Grandstand and World of Sport on TV, the local stadium at weekends and jumpers for goalposts in the park? Remember the days before imported managers, millionaire players and omnipotent agents? No? Ah, well. Your faithful correspondent sometimes forgets that some of our readers aren’t that old…
In all seriousness, the sport has changed almost beyond recognition from what it was in the 1960s and 70s when television first began to spread the seeds of an obsession that would eventually consume this nation and many others. The character of the game has changed as has the scale of everything around it. The amount of money involved is simply beyond an ordinary mortal’s ability to calculate. In short, football is huge.
The media landscape has also changed. Where TV once enjoyed a near-monopoly on delivering sport to the people, on-demand streaming and social media have opened up new channels of communication. The internet bypasses traditional media’s control over what the public sees and makes it possible for a whole community of independent talent to share in the success surrounding the game.
Freestyle football is one of the phenomena that has emerged in the YouTube age. As in many sports, football has always had its repertoire of trickshots and novelty moves: Pele and Maradona were famed exponents of the bicycle kick and Colombia’s flamboyant goalkeeper, René Higuita, had his scorpion kick. The flashy stuff is not new, but it has certainly taken on a life of its own in freestyle football; so much so that it has grown into a sport in its own right with competitions organised worldwide and an international governing body, the World Freestyle Football Association (WFFA) which manages official rankings from competitive events.
Another side to freestyle concentrates more on entertainment than competition and YouTube has become its natural environment. One of the UK’s most popular freestyle teams are the F2 Freestylers, also known simply as F2: a duo comprising Jeremy Lynch (right) and Billy Wingrove (left).
In 2008, Jeremy Lynch took part in Britain’s Got Talent, making it all the way to the semi-finals. In 2011, he and Wingrove started their F2 Freestylers YouTube channel and quickly gained enormous popularity. Although the F2 chose careers in freestyle over conventional match football, Jeremy Lynch’s abilities brought him to the attention of Manchester United fans in 2019. Scoring for England at Soccer Aid’s match at Stamford Bridge, Lynch had United supporters lobbying for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to sign Jezza for the team, declaring that he played better than many top professionals. While the short-lived campaign was never going to bear fruit, it did underline the serious technical abilities of freestylers and demonstrate that those skills remain relevant to the competitive game.
With well over 10 million subscribers, F2 Freestylers is a serious enterprise earning big money and the Sunday Times ranked the duo at number four in their list of the UK’s top influencers. Their popularity has allowed Lynch and Wingrove to diversify, establishing talent management agencies to help develop aspiring footballers and social media content creators and presenters. They have also launched a clothing brand, Rascal Clothing. This sartorial diversion was prompted largely by Jeremy and Billy’s frustration at poorly fitting and uncomfortable active wear. The emphasis is on both practicality and style. The F2 guys themselves appear on the Rascal website wearing items from the comprehensive range of hoodies, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tracksuits, caps, bags and much more. Rascal Clothing caters for adults, juniors and even toddlers. But, despite this branching out, spectacular football skills remain the heart and core of F2 Freestylers.
As a successful sportsman and social media influencer, it is not surprising that Jeremy Lynch’s love of flash and flamboyance should extend beyond football. He is also enthusiastic about nice cars.
A while ago, we at Regtransfers got a phone call from our friend Yianni Charalambous at top car-styling studio Yiannimize. Readers may remember we previously featured Yianni’s work on the fantastic Mini he customised for actor James Buckley of The Inbetweeners fame. Yianni contacted us because he had just finished work on Jeremy Lynch’s Lamborghini and he was adamant that the job wouldn’t be finished until the car had an excellent private number plate. Of course, we absolutely agreed.
We visited Yiannimize to meet Jeremy, to see the car and to ensure that all the arrangements for the transfer of JEZ 444 had gone smoothly. As you can see from the photos, Yiannimize and Regtransfers delivered for Jezza and he was delighted with the result. In fact, he was so pleased that he came back to Regtransfers for a couple more plates, including JEZ 8000 for himself and one for his mum and dad!