Chelsea mascot Jake Nickless recalls Steven Gerrard tunnel prank 14 years on
It was the moment a Champions League-winning captain was pranked in the tunnel by a cheeky mascot.
Then aged five, young Chelsea fan Jake Nickless offered to shake the hand of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard before a big televised Premier League match in February 2006 – and then blew a raspberry at him.
But 14 years on, and as the video has gone viral again, there appears to be no hard feelings.
Gerrard, now manager of Rangers, mentioned the incident in his autobiography and said it was the only time he smiled in the tunnel before kick-off.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Scott Mills and Chris Stark show on Saturday, Nickless said: “My mum bought the book and there’s a picture in there of me doing it.
“I sent a copy to him to get it signed, and he signed it for me.”
Nickless is now a useful footballer himself, playing as an attacking midfielder for North Greenford United in the South Midlands League, and some of his friends have only just found out about his moment of fame.
“My friends keep saying we need to be reunited,” added the 19-year-old from west London.
“The video goes viral every other year. This year, one of my friends just kept tagging people, and it’s the first year I’ve got any credit for it.
“Half of my friends never knew it was me. I never really spoke about it until the past week.”
In an interview with Sportbible earlier this week, Nickless explained how all the attention at the time meant he was taken home from school early.
He told the BBC how his father had put him up to the prank, which happened before Chelsea’s 2-0 home win over Liverpool on 5 February 2006.
“The week before, my dad found out that I was going to be mascot – he got it for me as a birthday present – and said you have to stand out,” said Nickless.
“First of all they died my hair blue. It wasn’t my idea. Then that thing with the handshake was his plan.
“I said: ‘No, I’m not doing it. I’m too shy.’ When I saw him [Gerrard] in the tunnel, it was just instinct. I just shouted his name. All my friends take the mick as I sounded so young.
“He wasn’t embarrassed. He was just surprised because he probably thought I was going to shake his hand.
“My dad actually didn’t think I was going to do it. He said: ‘If you do it, we’ll go out the day after and buy you five PlayStation 2 games.’ And I got the games.”