Harry and Jamie Redknapp on life after football, comedy and growing TV demands

They are the father-and-son ­soccer superstars who proved there is life after football.

And now Harry and Jamie Redknapp are showing they still know how to have a laugh too.

Harry’s new ITV series, in which he takes a team of unfit retired England football players on a hilarious journey through Europe, kicked off on Monday night.

The legendary manager has also teamed up with son Jamie for ­the sports-themed entertainment show Redknapp’s Home Fixture, which began last week on Sky One.

Along with comedian Tom Davis, they do their best to cheer us up and fill the sporting void in our lives.

Both programmes are in the “comedy” category – and that irony is not lost on 73-year-old Harry, who says he was a “miserable git” before retiring from ­football three years ago.

He says: “I never imagined I’d have a new career making people laugh on TV in my seventies.

“When you’re a football manager it’s hard to be a bundle of fun.

“As a player if there was any fun going on then I was always right in the middle, but then I got into management and I became serious and pretty ­miserable.

“I was a ­miserable git for the last 40 years after I became a manager, no laughs at all.

"But since I left football I do think I’ve gone back to my youth a bit and started to laugh and have more fun.”

Jamie, meanwhile, knows all about fun as part of the team on Sky’s sport comedy quiz A League of Their Own, as well as becoming a football pundit and presenter since retiring from the game – 12 years before his dad – in 2005.

And he agrees his dad has lightened up and showed more of his jocular side since announcing his ­retirement from football.

He says: “I remember coming home from school, and if he’d lost a game he would be pretty miserable, which was understandable.

“It’s a very high-pressure job being a manager, I’m not surprised he got a little bit down and stressed.

“But I’ve always known that my dad is funny, and the best thing is that he doesn’t try to be funny. When people are around him they laugh, it’s a gift.

“He has an amazing ability to tell stories and crack punchlines that ­comedians would give anything for.

“That’s why I thought he’d be great in the show. I told the producers, ‘Dad’s so funny, let’s use him’. Every show needs to have one or two good Harry Redknapp stories to keep people laughing.”

But who is the funniest Redknapp?

“Oh, I’m definitely funnier than Jamie,” replies Harry.

“Yes, it’s him without question, I’ll give him that,” retorts Jamie, 46.

“But I was the better footballer.”

Harry played for clubs such as Bournemouth and West Ham before managing the likes of the Hammers, Portsmouth and Spurs, who he guided to the Champions League in 2010.

Son Jamie spent 11 years at Liverpool before joining Spurs and Southampton, and was capped 17 times for England.

The family includes Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, son of the late twin sister of Harry’s wife Sandra, making him Harry’s nephew.

Harry, who was nearly made England boss, finally announced his retirement after leaving Birmingham City in 2017.

Then a year later, Harry took part in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here and ended up enthralling viewers – and being crowned King of the Jungle.

Since then he has been in demand, with several TV programmes and his own touring stand-up show, where he tells amusing tales from his life.

Jamie said he was thrilled that so many people have got to see the real, laugh-a-minute Harry.

He says: “I remember finding out that he was going to the jungle on the front page of the Daily Mirror! I told him, ‘Dad, you can’t do that,’ and he said, ‘No, I’m doing it, I think it will be a laugh’. I asked him if he knew what he will have to do and he said, ‘No, but it doesn’t matter, I’ll be all right’.

“The whole thing was very emotional. I’m not massively into reality shows but it was really nice for me and the kids to watch him.

“The key to those shows is to be yourself and not try to be funny.

“There were times when he clearly found it hard but he genuinely came across as my dad, the person I know.”

But Harry insists he had no ­intention of kick-starting a new TV career and thought he would get back to being retired when he got home.

He says: “I really just thought, ‘That’s it, I’m going to retire now, I love my racing, I’ve got 10 horses and I’ll spend my days going down to the yard to watch them working.

“Being on TV was the last thing on my mind. Then I agreed to do just that one programme, and after that it’s got crazier than ever.”

His latest ITV show, Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having a Laugh, sees him trying to train up England stars from the 1990s such as Paul Merson, Matt Le Tissier and Neil “Razor” Ruddock ready to take on their old rivals Germany in one last grudge match.

He says: “I loved every bit of doing it, it was ­absolutely brilliant to be with those footballers, they are great lads.”

He remembers the “strangest moment”, when David Seaman stormed off the pitch when he found out he was going to have to play against a team of French nudists.

Harry chuckles: “David got the hump with that. The lads gave him a bit of stick, as you can imagine with him being called Seaman, and playing against a team of nudists. They were quite good ­footballers actually.

“Then we had Vinnie Jones come in and play with us, in San Marino.

"He was going along lovely, but then ended up giving someone a forearm smash with five minutes to go in the game, and laid the guy out cold.

"He’d been very tame until then, but it’s not in Vinnie’s nature to be nice for the whole game.”

The show was filmed last year, and life is now very different. Harry and wife Sandra, 72, are in lockdown in their home in Poole, Dorset, while Jamie is at his home in Surrey, sharing looking after sons Beau, 11, and Charley, 15, with his pop star ex-wife.

Jamie says: “I’m sharing the kids with Louise, which has worked out really well.

“Homeschooling has not been easy though, and my respect level for teachers has gone through the roof.”

While Harry, who has another son, Mark, a model, hasn’t been able to see his five­
grandchildren, he says lockdown hasn’t been too bad – and certainly nothing like being stuck in the jungle for three weeks.

He says: “It’s no hardship compared to the jungle. There they make you live with no food, no nothing. Here we have TV and food, that’s everything we need. We look forward to our one-and-a-half hour walk per day. We don’t walk very far, people are always stopping and talking to me – from a distance, of course.

“We’re both over 70 and in the vulnerable group, so we haven’t taken any chances.”

It helps, he adds, that he and Sandra, who have been married for 53 years, get on so well. The couple have “never had an argument” and lockdown hasn’t changed that.

He says: “We just don’t argue, I can honestly say that. Of course, it’s not like we’re stuck in a flat all day, we’re not on top of each other.

“Most of the time Sandra sits in one room watching all the soaps, Corrie, EastEnders, Emmerdale, and I’m in the other room watching all the sports news on telly. I pretty much spend the whole day doing that.

“Sandra is a fitness fanatic and would normally have some 10 friends over a couple of times a week to do pilates and boxing. I’ve had to help her by holding the boxing pads while she punches them. I am quite scared though that she might give me a right hook.

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