Stevens raises the singing stakes

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The Independent Online

England's replacement prop, Matt Stevens, has released his own version of the team's anthem "The Gambler" ahead of the World Cup final.

The track was originally made famous in 1978 by the country singer Kenny Rogers and has been adopted as a team favourite during the World Cup. Stevens, who is on the England bench for tonight's game, recorded the version last year during his appearances on ITV 1's Celebrity X-Factor. He has decided to release it on the eve of the World Cup final to raise money for charity.

"I often bring my guitar on the team bus for a sing-song and this track became a favourite with the boys, who love to join in the chorus," he said. "The team soon adopted it and it is now something we sing in the changing room. It is also one of the few songs the team can actually sing in key!

"This has always been one of my favourite songs. I didn't get to sing it on the show and not long after I decided to record it with a view to helping raise money for charity."

The song is available to download from iTunes, with proceeds going to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and a second children's charity of the England team's choosing.

Rogers recorded the team a good luck message after hearing his song had become a changing-room favourite, although he did warn them that if they lost the final they would not hear from him again. Download sales of the original have rocketed since England reached the final.

The lyrics, about a man down on his luck given advice by a card sharp, have proved apt as England bounced back from the 36-0 drubbing by South Africa to reach the final.