Wicks was part of Rooney’s own England squad at last week’s Soccer Aid event in Manchester, helping to raise money for UNICEF.
And it was following a training session when Wicks found out he was in the starting team to face the ‘World XI’ that the YouTube fitness sensation was shocked with a surprise presentation of his Lionhearts shirt with squad number 10.
The 33 year old became a worldwide sensation during the COVID-19 lockdown period, after launching ‘PE with Joe’ on his channel which saw him take viewers through a 30-minute exercise session at 9am from Monday to Friday.
He amassed over 80m views across the 18 weeks in which the show ran, with people and families across the UK and around the world tuning in on a daily basis.
And after donating all of the money raised from the initiative to NHS Charities Together, Wicks became something of a national treasure and deservedly takes his place in the Lionhearts squad.
“I was already excited to be around Soccer Aid, playing alongside some absolute legends, so to receive this award off Wayne Rooney after training was incredible,” revealed Joe.
From one number 🔟 to another.
— England (@England) September 12, 2020
“I’m so proud of it, it’s amazing gift and to be getting it off the absolute England legend that is Wayne Rooney, I was absolutely in my element and over the moon.
“It’s a wonderful achievement, and I’m so proud of what I’ve done with ‘PE with Joe’ and I really believe it’s my proudest achievement.
“It had such an impact on so many people, and I didn’t know it was going to happen and that so many people would do it – I just thought I’d give it a go and try to be there for people from Monday to Friday.”
The Lionhearts initiative, supported by BT, will pay homage to 23 inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond during this challenging time for the nation.
And Rooney added: “As a father myself, I know how important Joe’s contribution was during the summer.
“Keeping active is vital to good health and wellbeing and Joe was able to inspire so many people, particularly young children.
“It was great to be able to pay tribute to him and it is brilliant to see the FA is rewarding real heroes across the country with the Lionhearts squad. I also want to thank him and everyone else for supporting the Soccer Aid event which raised so much money for Unicef. In difficult times, we have really seen the best of people this year.”
Joe admits when he saw the squad’s skipper, Captain Sir Tom Moore, inducted by David Beckham back in July he never imagined he’d be joining him.
“I saw David Beckham give Captain Sir Tom his award and I thought: ‘wow, that’s incredible’.
“And he deserved it, so when Wayne Rooney turned around and gave me one, I just thought it was amazing and I was so proud.
“I’m so grateful that people voted for me, to be on the Lionhearts team.
“As I launched ‘PE with Joe’, Sir Captain Tom was doing his thing and it was incredible, one of the most successful fund-raising campaigns of all time I imagine and he inspired the nation.
“He got people thinking about the NHS and it got me thinking, to donate the money we raised through YouTube and then we released the ‘PE with Joe’ t-shirts to the same charity of NHS Charities Together.”
The squad so far…
1.Captain Sir Tom Moore – Record-breaking centenarian who raised more than £32million for NHS Charities Together
2. Ranjit Singh – The wrestling coach from Wolverhampton helped organise daily meals for 300 people and the distribution of PPE equipment
5. Betty-Leigh Allinson – Football shirt enthusiast aged five who has raised over £27,000 for a Hertfordshire hospice through a cycling feat
9. Tobias Weller – Nine-year-old inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore to raise almost £150,000 for Sheffield-based charities
10. Joe Wicks – The YouTube fitness coach led the nation and beyond through a daily exercise class for 18 weeks during lockdown.
15. Hassan Akkad – Award-winning film maker who answered a call to be a cleaner in his local hospital before raising awareness of NHS bereavement fund
16. Akbar Khan – Bradford-based volunteer for a charity for people with disabilities who brought their community together during COVID-19 lockdown
22. Daniel Sukula – Community leader from Bolton who, after being saved from deportation back to DR Congo, founded a centre for disadvantaged youths