The F2: Not just freestyle footballersIndividually, they’re two of the world’s best freestyle footballers – but as a duo, the Londoners have taken their skills and fame to the next level
Seven years ago, Londoners Jeremy Lynch, 28, and Billy Wingrove, 33, were rivals on the freestyle football circuit. But, over time, the pair realised that collaboration, not competition, was the future. In 2010, they opened FIFA’s prestigious Ballon d’Or awards and blew away an audience full of football’s finest with a double act of stunning synchronised ball skills.
Since then, as The F2, they’ve won an industry award for UK Entertainment Act Of The Year and scored a YouTube following of almost three million subscribers, and their fanbase includes footballing greats such as Messi, Neymar and Pelé. Here, the duo reveal the secret of staying perfectly in sync.
THE RED BULLETIN: How does it feel to have earned global recognition?
BILLY WINGROVE: It’s just unbelievable. We stopped playing at 19, at the top level of semi-pro football, to go into freestyling. It’s probably the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make – as a kid, all you want is to be a football player – but now, doing tricks, we’re closer to being the best in the world than we would be playing football. If you look at what we’ve achieved and how many people it’s impacted, we made the right decision.
Why did you team up?
JEREMY LYNCH: We felt there wasn’t such a buzz any more around one guy juggling a ball, so we thought, “What hasn’t been done?” That’s when we came up with the idea of performing a choreographed stage routine as a double act. We studied our favourite performers – Michael Jackson, Diversity and [US dance crew] Jabbawockeez – and mixed those elements with our technical freestyle skills. Billy had the idea of doing it in suits, so we got them tailor-made in a stretchy material. Then the Ballon d’Or came along. It snowballed from there.
So collaboration was the key to success for you?
BW: It’s helped a lot. Jeremy’s probably more technical and he’s brought me on, because I can see the standard I need to get to. I might be stronger at shooting, so Jeremy’s worked on that. Having someone with you during training will only ever bring you on further.
Is teamwork tougher than working alone, though?
BW: It can be, but we work together well. You don’t often get two people who fully believe in each other and have the same abilities and skill set. I think we’ve got the right balance, and that’s unique. I don’t think people can get that by just pairing up and saying, “Right, let’s be a double act…”
How do you deal with disagreements?
BW: We’re quite different people, but that works when we’re creating stuff. We respect each other’s point of view. When one person is adamant about something, the other steps back and we go with it. On the odd occasion when we’re both adamant, we ask the wives and girlfriends to step in.
What’s been your most memorable F2 moment?
JL: Spending the day with Pelé. It’s something you never think you’ll do in your lifetime. You grow up seeing Pelé as possibly the greatest player who ever lived, and to be in his company, just chatting and laughing – he was so down-to-earth – was incredible. The kickabout with Neymar as well. Some would call him the Pelé for the new generation.
What’s next, then?
BW: We’ve already exceeded our expectations. When we started, there was only one person in the world with a football channel with 80,000 subscribers, and we said, “If we can get to that level, we’re happy.” Look at where we are now. Our agency said, “If you can get to six million users, set that as a target.” So that’s where we’d like to be.
If a Premier League team came knocking, would you call it a day for The F2?
BW: We’d negotiate a contract where I’d be on the left wing, Jeremy on the right, and we’d skill our training sessions to upload to YouTube. Nothing would change, apart from us playing in the Premiership, too. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I’d like to see it.