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A singer and football coach went from representing the UK at Eurovision "by accident" to managing a team on the Pacific island of Guam.
Daz Sampson, from Stockport, will no doubt be having pangs of nostalgia when Liverpool hosts the Eurovision Song Contest tonight. Back in 2006, he was representing his country in Athens, coming 19th with ‘Teenage Life’, which later climbed to number eight in the UK charts.
At the time, Sampson was in the band Uniting Nations, who were asked if they would be interested in representing the UK at Eurovision by music industry executive Richard Park. The group’s management had reservations but a track Sampson originally wrote for Blazin’ Squad paved the way for his Eurovision appearance.
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“We had two versions of that song,” he told Ladbrokes in 2007. “There’s one with me on it, and one with them. And my manager at the time – just by pure chance – sent the version with me on it and Richard said he wanted to keep it as it was.”
Sampson knew full well he had little chance of bucking the UK’s traditionally dreadful record at the competition, even if he was talking up his chances at the time.
“If you listen to my interviews from back then, you’ll have heard me saying I thought we could have won the whole thing,” he recalled.
“I knew full well we were not going to win, but if I was going to have a fight with Tyson Fury, I’m not gonna say ‘he’s gonna kick the hell out of me’, because I’d be beaten before I got in the ring!”
His new-found celebrity status led to various invites to appear on reality TV shows, but they weren’t for him.
“It was a great time, after Eurovision. I got offered Big Brother, I got offered the Jungle [I’m a Celebrity], all these reality shows,” he revealed. “But none of that was what I got in it for, because I’m just a normal geezer from Stockport.
“Since I’ve been on there, they’ve not had the same viewing figures [for Eurovision]. Do you know why? Because I was representing the man on the street, the taxi drivers and the window cleaners.”
Sampson was instead focused on getting back into football, having been on Manchester City’s books as a child before spending time at hometown club Stockport.
He went down an unusual route, managing a semi-professional side in Poland. He recalled: “We played Wisla Krakow in a cup. At the time, I had a team of taxi drivers and plasterers, and they – a Champions League team – only beat us 3-2 over two games.”
Sampson then went even more offbeat when he took charge of a team in American territory Guam, enjoying great success.
“I remember taking my first training session in Guam. I get there, not a ball in sight,” said Sampson, who also coached in America. “It’s all about fitness and the shape of the squad. And then at the end, they get these tennis balls out. Honest to God, you could not get the ball off these players.
“In the last five seasons, I have a 72 per cent win rate. I took a team in Guam – with players who weren’t even being paid when I went there – to second in the league, to winning the cup, to now having three international players playing for them.”
Sampson has since tried to build a coaching career in England but claims he hasn’t always been taken seriously due to his showbiz background. After taking charge of Cheshire League side Halebank FC in 2018, he told the Liverpool Echo: “I wasn’t taken seriously in this country, I was just seen as that guy off the telly.
“I came back to this country in 2016, coaching Ashton Town, but I still wasn’t taken seriously. But go to Guam or Tampa, they’ll not know me as a musician, they’ll know me as a bloody good football manager.
“I’ll never get away from that stigma of Eurovision etc, but I don’t want it [managing Halebank] to become a circus.”
However, he would certainly be interested in appearing on Eurovision again if the chance ever arises. He admitted: “If you could wave a magic wand and put me back in it this year, I’d snap your hand off.
“I’d do it again because aside from how it messes up your career – if you’re not too serious about it. It’s like going to the World Cup of music.
“The Eurovision fans are like football fans, it’s unreal. Of course I’d do it again.”
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- Eurovision Song Contest
- Big Brother
- Champions League
- Premier League
- World Cup
- Tyson Fury
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