A squad of former England stars line up for a telly diet show – only to score an almighty own goal.
The 13 big – er, very big – names included the likes of Neil Ruddock, John Barnes and TV pundit Paul Merson.
The squad was tasked with shedding a combined 40 stone.
But we can reveal many of the former Three Lions drifted well offside as they faced a daunting diet and fitness regime for ITV programme Match Fit.
And that was despite being under the watchful eye of former soccer boss Harry Redknapp, 71 – currently shedding the pounds himself on a diet of rice, beans and emu sausages in jungle show I’m A Celebrity.
Insiders said some of the veterans took little notice of the fitness drills and continued to binge on junk food and booze.
Producers aren’t revealing the players’ before and after weight. But a source said: “It didn’t exactly go according to plan.”
Matt Le Tissier
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Ex-keeper David Seaman took part in the challenge along with Robbie Fowler, Mark Wright and Matthew Le Tissier. Also in the squad were Rob Lee, Ray Parlour, Chris Waddle, Lee Sharpe, Steve Howey and Mark Chamberlain – father of current England star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 25.
TV chiefs wanted the players to fit back into their 1990s football tops and take on a team of international rivals.
The idea was to highlight the importance of following a healthy diet and fitness routine as middle age sets in. Former Liverpool star Fowler said it was tough, adding: “It’s quite a shock after a few sedentary years.”
ITV commissioning editor Kate Teckman said: “We are finally going to answer the age-old question ‘Who ate all the pies’?
“The extreme change to their fitness and diet routines will shed light on how important it is to maintain a healthy diet and fitness routine.”
Ex-Spurs boss Harry filmed the show before travelling Down Under for I’m A Celeb, where he is an early favourite to win. The insider added: “This was one of Harry’s toughest challenges to date. Trying to keep the footballers in check was hard work.
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“Quite a few didn’t stick to fitness plans by eating and drinking what they wanted and not doing any exercise.
“Losing 40st was always a tall order but they didn’t get too close. It’s a good job shirts in the ’90s were looser than the ones footballers wear now, otherwise some of them would have had no chance getting into them.”
The two-parter is being aired early next year.
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