Meet the Staines striker with a sideline as Cristiano Ronaldo's body double

 

It is no surprise that Louie Theophanous wants to use this weekend's FA Cup first round as a platform to finally seize his moment in the spotlight. For a few hours, every three months, he stands alongside Cristiano Ronaldo as a footballing equal. That is until the cameras stop rolling.

Ronaldo heads back to his untold riches at Real Madrid. In contrast, the Staines Town striker returns to his Kennington home bidding for another big break as he makes his way in the game. Welcome to Theophanous's world as Ronaldo's body double.

"You obviously can't compare our lives on or off the pitch," he said. "He is the best at what he does and I'm just dreaming of getting back into the league. Not many people can say they have met Ronaldo, let alone count him as one of your friends.

"It is a job I take seriously and enjoy. I would say I have been in four or five Nike adverts with Ronaldo now. There are times where I can pick his brains and talk to him about football. Advice like that is invaluable."

With the first round looming, the myriad jobs for the part-time players usually consist of postmen, cab drivers and plumbers. But Theophanous, a model for Andy Ansah's Sports on Screen company and a full-time pro with the Skrill South side, bucks that trend.

"It is a great experience and you get very well looked after," he said. "Ronaldo will do all the tricks with the ball, as you can see on the television, but there are some things he is not permitted to do. So, with myself being the similar build and height, I fill in as his body double for some of the shots.

"My name was put forward by one of my old AFC Wimbledon team-mates. He acts as Rio Ferdinand's body double in commercials and it has gone on from there. As well as the look, they wanted someone who obviously could play a bit as well so I fitted into that category.

"It has been really good for me. I am serious about my football and to get back into the professional game is my main target. But this has been a nice sideline."

Theophanous's goalscoring exploits, notably in Staines' marathon run through the Cup qualifying stages, have seen scouts flock to the Surrey club. At just 22, he has time on his side to come again and is so highly thought of that he is the only full-time player on the books.

"I'm confident in my ability to get back to a professional level," added Theophanous. "Clubs do not want to take chances with players, which is frustrating. I believe my time will come again. I just have to keep scoring goals and things will take care of themselves. Big occasions like this will put you in the shop window."

For Staines, it does not get much bigger than a west London derby against Brentford on Saturday. The manager is Marcus Gayle, the former Wimbledon striker, who heads back to the club that launched his career. Staines has become known as the home for the comic character Ali G but Gayle wants to put it on the map for different reasons. "I believe we can surprise a few people," said Gayle. They will be surprised to learn how their striker supplements his income.

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