Lancashire’s world champion freestyle footballer Liv Cooke has sent shock waves through the freestyling world after announcing she will defend her title at the upcoming world championships.
The 19-year-old from Leyland took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce the news to fans and competitors in a one minute long video which was liked and retweeted more than 400 times in just more than 12 hours.
Liv said: “Everyone is asking if I’m competing in the world champs this year and the truth is I didn’t know, I didn’t intend to, but we’re a few months out and the thought of somebody else walking round thinking they’re the best in the world with my title?
“No no no no no; it can’t happen. So I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna compete.”
Liv won the 2017 Super Ball freestyle football world championships in Prague, aged just 18 at the time.
This year’s competition returns to the Czech Republic capital in August – and Liv is fully aware of the standards that she needs to bring if she is to keep her crown.
“I’m not gonna lie to you. My level right now - I still believe is the highest in the world - but it’s not at the stage I’d want it to be at for me to step on a stage and compete,” she explained.
“So I’ve a lot of hard work ahead of me but I’m willing to do it, I’m going to train all day every day. I’m going to put the work in.”
In a slightly tongue-in-cheek remark, Liv added: “I was thinking, what will I call myself? Two times world champion? Two times champion of the world? Or the champ champ? But then someone reminded me...the GOAT [greatest of all time]!”
The Leyland teenager was due to compete in the freestyle world championships in Tokyo in February but had to withdraw from the contest after suffering a stress fracture in her left foot during intensive training.
Liv, who described the injury as "heartbreaking", is now fully recovered ahead of the August's competition.
She said: "I’m fully recovered! Just starting preparation training for the competition and I feel great!"
Liv has been causing a stir in soccer circles ahead of the World Cup.
The Leyland teenager has been out and about chatting with BBC pundits ahead of the football extravaganza, which kicks off next Saturday in Russia.
She raised a few eyebrows on social media when ex-England and Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand said his country had “no chance” of winning the tournament.
Liv asked “Can England win?”, with Ferdinand replying with a stern “no”, leaving her helpless with laughter.
She also caught up with former England captain Alan Shearer, nutmegging him in a video viewed by thousands.