Liv Cooke is a social media superstar. David Fearnhead discovers what the former Freestyle Football World Champion has been doing to entertain her legion of young fans over the past year and how she sees her latest venture as equalling her finest accolade
If you’re one of her 4.5 million followers on social media platform TikTok you’ll already be aware of Liv Cooke. For those who are not, I’d suggest you start with a post from November last year entitled: ‘Would you trust yourself to hit a bottle off a Lambo?’
It’s self-explanatory. Liv attempts to knock a water bottle off the roof of a £182,000 Lamborghini Huracán using a football on the drop volley. The most remarkable thing about the video is not that she makes it – after all, she’s a former Freestyle Football World Champion. No, what is remarkable is that the car is her own.
It’s here where you might expect me to casually drop in that she’s the daughter of someone famous or allude to her family having wealthy connections, which she’s somehow had to struggle against to make it. There is none of that. At 21, Liv Cooke is very much a self-made woman. From being a 14-year-old playing at Blackburn Rovers Centre of Excellence at Brockhall Village her rise has been as rapid as it has been remarkable.
Surprisingly she’s changed very little since I first interviewed her for this magazine some three years ago. She’s still as funny and as energetic as she was at 18, and thankfully just as down to earth.
“I know it’s a silly purchase,” Liv admits of her Lamborghini. “When you look at it from just a financial perspective it is a stupid amount to spend on a car. It makes no sense, but at the same time I’ve got to remember that my mindset is literally what runs the whole thing.”
The whole thing is Liv. From being Freestyle World Champion she has grown into a one woman industry. There’s the UEFA Ambassador role, the vast media and social media output, the growing property empire – and yet she admits it’s all a bit of a game. A game she is clearly winning. She doesn’t look on her bank balance so much as pounds and pence, but more in the same way she looked at accumulating points when she was chasing world titles.
The Lamborghini, just like the BMW i8 she had before it, is a milestone. A level she has achieved. “People say you can’t buy happiness, but honestly I do nothing but smile when I get in that car.” Crucially though it’s also a reminder of the effort that’s continually required. “You can’t turn up in a Lamborghini and not put in 100 per cent.”
There is a level of expectation in everything she does.
The positive mindset is something she has to work equally hard on. After winning the World Championship with a literally flawless performance she admits she sank into a bit of a depression.
“At the end of 2017 I’d just had the best year of my life. I’d become the person that I’d always wanted to become. It takes a crazy level of obsession to become the best in the world at something. For six straight years it was all I thought about, all I cared about, and all that I did. The problem that I couldn’t foresee was when you get it, what the hell do you do then?”
At 18 she’d realised her life ambition as the Freestyle World Champion. The youngest to ever do so. An achievement that will probably never be beaten. The challenge that had defined her life had been met and conquered.
“I didn’t have anything to get out of bed for,” says Liv. “I remember one day my brother coming in to see me and saying, ‘Are you actually going to get up today?’ I’d say, ‘What’s the point? What am I actually going to get up for?’ There was nothing left in me. There was no progress to be made.
“That winning high you get from sport, you need it, and you need to get it from somewhere. So, I get why so many ex-professional footballers struggle when they retire. I was fortunate that UEFA came into my life and we went off travelling the world.”
And then the first lockdown hit.
“My whole life changed. I had so many plans. I couldn’t go to events. I couldn’t travel. Everything that was my career came to a halt. So, it’s been a weird time for me. The whole world is stuck in this situation.”
Then she catches herself: “But you know there is always something to be done. I think I’m one of those people. Something happens and you’ve just got to find a reason or make a reason.”
Being off the road afforded her time to write her first book. It’s inspired by questions from her young social media followers. “I have an audience who continually ask me questions such as, how can I get more confident? How can I drive a Lamborghini? How can I live my dreams? Those aren’t the sort of answers that can be given in a little 15 second video on TikTok.
“I think everyone sees my skills and thinks they are impressive, but I actually think my mindset is better. I work harder on it. So, my hope is that if a young person picks this book up it can change their life. It can give them everything they need to be happy, to reach the top in any field and live life to their best potential.
“I’m really excited for this book. When I say I’ve given it my everything, I really, really, have. I’m as proud of the work that has gone into it as I am in all the training I put in to becoming a world champion.”
Aware of the power of having something to do, she decided to start giving freestyle tutorials via social media, for free, that anyone could watch and learn from. And she did it daily.
Part of the motivation is practicing what she preaches. Liv is acutely aware of the dangers of social media, and the damage that negativity can do. “It’s not great if I’m telling people they need to only follow positive people that they aspire to be like, then I’m on there having a right moan every day,” she laughs. “It’s not all been sunshine and rainbows, but nobody wants to hear me moaning about how bad lockdown is.”
She can still moan with the best of them, but when she does it is laced thick with irony and humour. Her rant about seagulls pooping on her car is worth seeking out. “That’s what I love about what I do – I can just say stuff like that. Yeah, it’s not positive. It’s not inspirational. It’s just me being me and I feel like I can still do that. Which is nice.”
The Way to Win With or Without a Ball by Liv Cooke will be out in August 2021
You can follow: @livcookefs on all social media platforms