Are There Any Real Soccer Players on Ted Lasso?

‘Ted Lasso’ is a sports comedy-drama that follows the misadventures of an American football coach who finds himself training an English football (soccer) team. The feel-good series is largely driven by the ultra-optimistic coach Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and his pearls of wisdom that bring the flagging team together for some hard-fought victories. Despite a significant part of the story taking place off the field, the show features a good amount of explosive football action that keeps it true to its sports-centric image. The coach aside, it is the team’s players that drive the story with their internal struggles, team politics, and personal problems, keeping the show fresh over multiple seasons. So did the AFC Richmond football players take on acting personas for the show, or are they actors that also happen to be really good at the sport? Let’s find out.

Are There Any Real Football Players on Ted Lasso?

As it turns out, the central team of ‘Ted Lasso’ has some actors with a significant history of professional football. After the departure of Jamie Tartt (who we will get to later), the flamboyant Dani Rojas becomes the team’s top scorer. The character, who perpetually exclaims “Football is life!” is essayed by Cristo Fernández, who played football in his native Mexico for many years. At the age of 15, he was part of the professional football team Tecos F.C. which has historically played in the first division of the Mexican football league system and also in the lower divisions.

Even as a child, Fernández seemed to be largely driven by the motto his character famously uses on the show. His major interest remained in football whilst completing his education on the side until a knee injury forced him to expand his horizons further, which landed him in film classes. After a series of odd jobs, which even included selling insurance, the former professional footballer found himself in the United Kingdom and eventually wound up on the cast of ‘Ted Lasso.’ His explosive football skills remain as important to the show as they do to the fictional team portrayed therein.

The team’s other lead scorer, who has since left AFC Richmond but is never too far away, is the young and proud Jamie Tartt, who spent a long time as the team’s top scorer and made sure no one forgot it. Jamie is essayed by Phil Dunster, a long-time football fan who has drawn from multiple football legends to create his character. He claims to have kept it fairly vague, possibly to ensure that Jamie Tartt has his own personality instead of being fully based on a single football player. However, his fashion sense seems to be driven by the iconic David Beckham’s penchant for adventurous stylings.

Some of the other players who Dunster says might have influenced his character include Ronaldo, Eric Cantona (the iconic Manchester United player also had a career in film after he retired from football), Jack Grealish, Olivier Giroud, and possibly Dimitri Payet. Similarly, his former teammate and rival Roy Kent’s character reportedly takes some inspiration from another former Manchester United player— Roy Keane.

The actors cast to essay professional footballers on the show, however, bring more than just inspiration from real players. According to the British casting director Theo Park, the auditions for the actors included them playing out acting scenes as well as showing proof of their football skills to ensure that the show’s central team looked like a convincing professional sports unit. Therefore, the football players that we see on ‘Ted Lasso’ all have a basic level of football skills, with some, like Fernández, adding some very serious football talent to the show’s cast.

Read More: Where Was Ted Lasso Season 2 Filmed?