Today it our privilege to bring you an interview with professional football freestyler and multiple world-record holder, Ben Nuttall. We discuss Ben’s performances at some of the Premier League’s biggest grounds, breaking world records, the contribution that Ben’s charity is making to others, plus much more…
How did you get into freestyle football?
I was always into the skill side of football growing up. I’d always take inspiration from the likes of Ronaldinho. I was playing for Birmingham City’s academy at a young age but ended up getting released from the club due to my lack of strength. I personally also just enjoyed doing skills on the sideline more than actually playing in the matches. So, from that point, I decided to focus on my skills. I got more and more into it, watching a lot of freestyle videos online, and got addicted.
Can you talk us through the journey from doing freestyle football as a hobby to becoming a professional? What various ways do you earn money as a freestyler?
I’d simply practised freestyle football purely for fun as a hobby since I was 12. I’d post my videos online just to track my own progress, but they started gaining attention. My name started to spread round the local area and at about aged 16 I started to be given opportunities to perform at the local football awards evening for example. It was almost a snowball effect and by the time I was 18 I was gaining opportunities from the likes of Manchester United and Adidas. Since I left school 3 years ago, I decided to pursue it full time, performing my skills at events, shooting for TV shows and commercials, as well as working with brands on social media and owning my own merchandise range.
Can you tell us about some of the most notable adverts, performances etc… that you’ve worked on as a freestyler? What are some of the companies, teams etc… that you have worked with?
Some of my favourites include performing at half time at the Emirates Stadium for the Arsenal vs Manchester United game, performing in Monaco at a pool party, as well as working my own TV series with Sky Sports. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great athletes too, such as the likes of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah & Sergio Aguero.
Tell us about the world records that you hold? What was the feeling like when you finally broke them, can you talk us through that day?
I currently hold 4 Guinness World Records in freestyle football. These are all control-based records. My favourite one is the most ‘knee catches’ in 30 seconds. A knee catch is where you kick the ball up and trap it in between the kneecaps. I broke this from 23 to 31.
The first one I did in 2018 was an amazing feeling as I’d always dreamt of being in the Guinness book of records since reading it every year as a kid. The others felt good too but are a stepping-stone to reach my final goal of 5 records, which I will look to complete soon.
Can you tell us about the BNF Charity?
This was set up in the aim of inspiring as much youth as possible and providing physical and mental benefits through freestyle football, mainly focused on working in prisons with youth offenders and those from deprived areas.
The aim is to give them something to do and focus on that will keep their mind on something positive. I felt lucky to have discovered a passion at such an early age that kept me on a straight path and that I could focus all of my energy into, as before I found that I was lost so can relate to a lot of these kids, which helps.
I’ve also recently just started to sponsor local football clubs and provide them with BNFreestyle Skill Balls too.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to take their passion and turn it into a successful business/career?
It’s not like a 9-5 job where you’re finished at 5pm and you can switch off. Be obsessed and think/ work on it 24/7.
Also set short term and long-term goals. Don’t neglect the long term vision and always keep that vision engrained into your head at all times
However, of course it’s great to take time off sometimes and also don’t underestimate the power of smart work over hard work when this is possible.
What are you plans and goals for the future?
I’m very interested in taking my charity and youth offenders work to the highest of levels.
I’d like to share my story to the mainstream, to as many people as possible and inspire as many people as I can.
I’d also like to achieve 5 world records sooner rather than later.
Interviewer: @tudge_ (Instagram)