AFC Richmond have been promoted.
The fictional club from the hit Apple TV+ show “Ted Lasso” is a playable team in the EA SPORTS FIFA 23 video game, it was announced Wednesday. Greyhounds appear in the Rest of the World category by default and can be switched in career mode, kick-off and online play. Ted Lasso, portrayed by Jason Sudeikis, is available in career mode.
“I am truly happy and deeply grateful to have experienced many special moments in my career thus far, and I consider this experience to be one of the best,” Sudeikis said in a statement. “As long-time fans of EA SPORTS FIFA, having Ted Lasso and the entire AFC Richmond team in the latest version of the game is a dream come true for me and the rest of the guys.”
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Perhaps no one is more excited about the show’s development than Phil Dunster, who plays star forward Jamie Tartt. Dunster vividly remembers playing the game for the first time – the FIFA 99 soundtrack has stuck with him for more than two decades – and said it has been a big part of his life ever since.
“[Playing FIFA is] really the closest thing I’ve had to an addiction,” Dunster told ESPN with a laugh. “Normally I’d play AFC Wimbledon in career mode because that’s my team. Then you get to the top and it’s amazing to watch [Leo] Messi plays at Plow Lane.”
Dunster said with the addition of AFC Richmond, he will likely have to change his approach and help bring glory to Nelson Road, with the Greyhounds’ stadium also part of the game. Characters Roy Kent, Sam Obisanya and Dani Rojas also appear.
For Dunster, the reality that the character he’s playing as an actor represents another surreal moment in the game, which has come from his involvement with the sitcom. When he was originally cast in the role, it was not expected that the show would become an internationally acclaimed series. In fact, his initial excitement stemmed from the fact that he was technically getting paid to play the sport he grew obsessed with.
“The weekend I found out I got the job, the thing I was most excited about was that we had football tryouts, which was the coolest thing for me as an avid lifelong football fan,” he said. “The expectations were very different from what the show turned out to be. Mostly it was about being able to pretend to be a professional football player. I could tell everyone that I was now getting paid to play football.”
The downside to the show’s success, he says, is that now that he’s showing up to five-a-side games in London, the expectations of those he’s playing with are different.
“People would say, ‘Aren’t you the guy from ‘Ted Lasso?’ Aren’t you supposed to be like a Premier League footballer?'” said Dunster. “And I’d be stupid in comparison and they’d be like, and it was really embarrassing for me. It’s happened a few times.”
His character Jamie Tartt is far from trash. In the show, he was good enough to play for Manchester City and a key member of Lasso’s team.
Dunster had not yet been informed what Tartt’s player rating was in the game, but he was willing to speculate.
“I think Jamie is 25. He hasn’t played for England yet, so he’s not at that level, but he’s also a striker. Look, Harry Kane has played for England. It’s difficult to be an English striker because Harry Kane is always in shape.” said Dunster. “That’s probably the reason [Tartt] hasn’t been like at the top, top, top of his game, hasn’t given chances. But he was at City – a really, really promising player. So with all those things in mind, I think he’s — I’d say 84 overall.”
It turns out that Dunster’s logic agreed with the game’s creators. An EA Sports FIFA spokesperson later confirmed that Tartt was rated 84 overall, a point behind Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and Chelsea’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
FIFA 23 will be released on September 30.