As the most popular current sports show on television, Ted Lasso real life players include several real-life footballers and soccer pundits. The Apple TV+ series follows American football coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), hired to lead a soccer team in England, despite hardly knowing anything about the sport. Ted Lasso is far more about teamwork, mentoring, and personal growth than soccer itself, but the way the series includes real-life cultural references and struggles associated with the sport only grows its authenticity as an incredible sports tale. Keeping up with the accuracy of real-world football culture, Ted Lasso places its starring football team into the real-life English Premier League, albeit under the fictional guise of AFC Richmond.
The Ted Lasso football club’s closest counterpart is Crystal Palace FC, which still exists in the show’s universe. Many of the show’s AFC Richmond footballers are inspired by real soccer players, such as Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) clearly based on Manchester United’s former captain Roy Keane. Most of the guest stars on Ted Lasso have been media pundits or former footballers, so it’s only a matter of time before the series brings on current football stars to elevate its sports prestige. Ted Lasso has also been building up its football credibility by featuring plenty of big names in football media who star as themselves, providing a heightened realism to the enjoyable comedy series.
In Ted Lasso’s After Hours homage episode that focuses on Coach Beard, Thierry Henry plays a bigger role than any of the other usual characters. He appears on the TV screen as Coach Beard plays the sports channel where Henry and Gary Lineker discuss AFC Richmond’s devastating loss at Wembley Stadium. Any time Beard sees Thierry in the episode he says, “Shut up Thierry Henry,” and turns off the TV. Toward the end of “Beard After Hours,” Henry actually shows up with Lineker at the club Beard is dancing in.
One of the Ted Lasso real life players, Henry is notable in the football world for being one of the greatest strikers of all time and one of the most talented players in Premier League history. The renowned footballer holds some of the sport’s most prestigious awards and has won several championships. He’s currently a professional football coach who assists the Belgium national team, having previously coached Montreal Impact and Monaco. As shown in Ted Lasso season 2, Henry also spent time as a soccer pundit for Sky Sports.
In conjunction with Thierry Henry, former footballer, and current soccer pundit Gary Lineker heckles Coach Beard in his imagination for not challenging Ted’s plays in Ted Lasso season 2’s “Beard After Hours.” Again appearing as a fictionalized version of himself, Lineker sits at the bar of a club with Henry while trying to steal some of his crisps. Lineker is regarded as one of the greatest English strikers in football history, still holding England’s record for most goals scored in the FIFA World Cup.
After retiring from football in 1994, Lineker was awarded a spot in the English Football Hall of Fame and began to appear as a sports broadcaster and media pundit on several networks, where he’s recently become one of the highest-paid BBC employees. Both Lineker and Henry showed up again in the season 3 episode, “Big Week.”
Appearing as himself, Chris Kamara appeared in several season 2 episodes of Ted Lasso as Roy Kent became a football pundit for Sky Sports, a network Kamara actually stars on in real life. Kamara’s role in the series was pretty small and usually consisted of laughing at Roy Kent’s nonchalant cursing. Aside from being a current pundit for Sky Sports in the real world, Kamara is known for being a former English footballer who specialized as a tough-tackling midfielder. After playing on several Second Division and Premier League teams as one of the Ted Lasso real life players, Kamara retired in 1995 to become a coach. This led to his notable football broadcaster and analyst media career that continues today.
Another Sky Sports broadcaster, Jeff Stelling appeared in Ted Lasso in season 2 as one of former AFC Richmond captain Roy Kent’s pundit coworkers. However, even when Roy leaves to accept a coaching position again, Sterling kept appearing on the show and this lasted into season 3. He ends up as the more compassionate of the pundits, especially compared to George Catrick, who was clearly anti-Ted Lasso.
Although most of the pundits brought onto Ted Lasso were also former players, Stelling was strictly a journalist, who has provided plenty of notable coverage on UK football teams. Stelling’s most notable media job has been the presenter of Gillette Soccer Saturday since 1998, a show covering hours of football discussion and reports opposite other renowned pundits like Chris Kamara.
One of the Ted Lasso real life players, Powell is one of the most notable English footballers of all time, currently serving as an assistant coach to the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur and coach for the English national team. In his own football career, Powell made multiple appearances on the English national team while playing for club teams like Charlton Athletic, Watford, West Ham United, and Southend United. Powell reoccurs on Ted Lasso as a fictionalized version of himself, serving as a football commentator who is seen and heard opposite Arlo White during the AFC Richmond games. Through three seasons, he has appeared in 16 episodes.
Unlike Chris Powell, Arlo White actually is a notable football commentator in real life, which makes for more authentic announcing during Ted Lasso’s fictional AFC Richmond matches. White is another Ted Lasso media pundit who wasn’t a former player, but the English sports presenter still holds a significant role in modern football culture. He’s known for previously serving as the commentator for the MLS’s Seattle Sounders FC, while currently acting as head play-by-play announcer for NBCSports’ Premier League coverage in the United States as well as the commentator for the MLS team Chicago Fire.
White has appeared on multiple Ted Lasso episodes as himself, which has more significance considering an early NBCSports promotional video he was featured in was what originally inspired the Apple TV+ series.