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Euro 2016: Who is Will Grigg?

For the past 3 months, Will Grigg has been on fire with his now-famous chant attracting attention from all corners of the footballing world.

Wales beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in the pre-quarterfinals of Euro 2016 and yet the biggest story emerging out of the match was that “burning star” Will Grigg had not featured in a single match at all in the Euros. This left a lot of football fans wondering who the hell Will Grigg is. Well, for starters, in spite of not having played a single minute in the tournament, Will Grigg is one of the hottest sensations at this edition of the European Championships for sure.

To elaborate for the unaquainted, Will Grigg is a professional footballer who had a phenomenal season for Wigan Athletic scoring 28 goals in 43 appearances which helped The Latics clinch promotion to the Football Championship with Will ending the season as top-scorer in the league. His searing goalscoring form led Latics fan, Sean Kennedy to upload a video to YouTube titled “Will Grigg is on fire” in May, which had the song “Freed from Desire” by Italian singer Gala modified to the chorus of “Will Grigg’s on fire, your defence is terrified".

The song became an instant hit and the fans at the DW Stadium began to chant it during matchdays. With the chant becoming a cult classic, Wigan Chairman David Sharpe granted a free season ticket to Sean Kennedy for the upcoming season.

However copyright claims by Made in etaly caused the video to be banned from YouTube. Electro duo Blonde released an official dance remix version of the song later which climbed as high as No.7 in iTunes UK Top 100.

The burgeoning popularity of Will Grigg rose to another level when Dutch game developer Poki made him the brand new addition in their game ‘Heads Arena: Euro Soccer’. All the proceeds from the game as well as the single went to Joseph’s Goal, a charitable foundation that was set up in honour of young Wigan fan Joseph Kendrick, who is diagnosed with Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH).

Will Grigg on fire in the mini-game

It did not take long for the fans of Northern Ireland to catch up with the chant once Will made it to the final 23-member squad for the Euros and the fans have been chanting for Will Grigg during every match. However, Will Grigg was an unused substitute in all the 4 matches played by Northern Ireland. After the round of 16 exit courtesy Wales, their manager Michael O’Neill commented, “I don’t pick my team around what supporters sing at games,” when asked about the chant.

Will Grigg’s heat map in the Euros

And now the English fans have gone one step further and adapted the song for Jamie Vardy as well replacing Will Grigg’s name in the song with Vardy’s. With Northern Ireland out of the Euros and the next League season not starting until August, Will Grigg’s fire may subside just a bit. However, the ‘burning’ sensation had a great few months with the crowning moment being acknowledged by none other than the self-appointed “commissioner of football” Eric Cantona himself in his Euro 2016 review for Eurosport.

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