He was last seen in news broadcasts across the world after convincing Press at a Mexican football club conference into believing he was their country’s real national team coach.
Hertfordshire actor and comedian, Derek Williams, 56, even managed to fool staff at first division Mexican outfit, Club Universidad Nacional, also known as Pumas; he was former England and Manchester City FC manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson.
Williams’ highly convincing appearance was also helped by having two tall brunette girls in short skirts on either arm.
The actual Eriksson had only taken on his new role as the national team coach just a month prior to the prank.
Unbeknown to an Italian reporter, who thought he had a scoop, the real Swedish coach was in America at the time Williams was in the dugout at the Estadio Universitario stadium in Mexico City.
Williams, who has made several 100 hours of television and feature films appearances as Eriksson, even convinced the club’s Brazilian manager, Ricardo Ferreti, he was looking at players for his first squad selection for Mexico.
“Ferreti and the Puma’s management and staff did find it ‘amazing and hilarious’, Williams says. “Ricardo said later, ‘there was no question of any documents or passes, forged or otherwise. He really had our security and all of us totally convinced and you have to admire his nerve. I really liked the guy!”
Feeling aggrieved and a little angry, the Italian press member fabricated a story about Williams saying he had forged documents and passes and was disrespectful to the Mexican Football Federation.
Williams says: “The Italian journalist’s lies reached Mr Eriksson later in the day of the Pumas stunt and he made a statement that he would boycott the Record newspaper. I understand the journalist later privately said he ‘over reacted’ when the TV Azteca special on the following Saturday evening showed the whole series of events had been in good fun and had not been intended to upset or embarrass anyone.”
The work in Mexico has led to a number of projects for Williams’ already busy work schedule.
“It’s not been a bad year for me,” adds Williams. “I’ve done a TV beer commercial in Croatia and also recorded a comedy song duet with Evelyne Brink for release in January.”
Brink, for those unfamiliar, appeared on the BBC One tribute act show ‘The One and Only’ as Madonna.
Alongside his project with Brink, Williams has also made an appearance in the Disney studio movie Goal! III, due for release in the spring next year, with the real Swedish spectacled football coach also making an appearance with him.
“It features the real Sven and me sharing the role of England manager, during the last World Cup, so it should be good exposure for me with luck!”
Williams’ luck of being an identical lookalike for Erickson could easily have run out at the start of June this year, when the real 60-year-old Sven was controversially sacked as manager of Manchester City FC. However, the popularity and, even more so, the notoriety of Erickson’s past life outside the beautiful game is not forgotten it seems.
Williams adds: “It’s amazing how many people still think Sven’s the England manager and my face is still instantly ‘recognisable’ and my act popular.
“The only television shows and features that have not featured me include the ‘soft porn’ ones like Alison Jackson’s Sven: The Coach, the Cash and His Lovers, for example. They’ve featured other lookalikes and not Eriksson’s double.”
Williams and his alter ego has recently appeared at numerous after dinner functions including a trip to Formby in Liverpool.
“Fourteen top soccer stars and TV personalities including Alan Hansen, Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Shearer, Kenny Dalglish, plus over 300 black tie dinner guests, arrived when I came to do my spot,” Williams enthused.
He also said the game of ‘cat and mouse’ with the British paparazzi is alive and well too. “I’m still confusing the hell out of lots of London paps,” Williams states.
“It happens when I attend events in the Mayfair and West End night clubs or soccer stadiums around the country with one or more of my ‘Sven’s babes’ on my arm!”
Good to see, then, Williams’ and Erickson’s for that matter, secret to exposure still relies on the ladies they both associate with…
For further information on the ‘official’ Sven-Göran Eriksson lookalike, visit Derek Williams’ website at www.svenalike.co.uk