Cutting through the intersection of football and music culture, Wiley takes the cover of SoccerBible Magazine Issue 11 as the first person outside the world of professional football. True to form and with grime providing the soundtrack to the contemporary game, he is a master as well as a maverick. Enjoy this snippet from our exclusive cover interview.

In 2015, grime prince Stormzy hit the Top 50 with his single “Know Me From”, notable for its cold production and hype chorus, the continuation of a captivating lo-fi video aesthetic that he’d nailed on “Shut Up”, and one lyric that would go viral: “I come to your team, and I fuck shit up, I’m David Moyes”.

At this point, Moyes was struggling in Spain as manager of Real Sociedad, having endured a nightmare season in charge of Manchester United, which sometimes felt like watching a man age faster than scientists previously knew possible. It’s a line that haunts Moyes on Twitter – even at the time of writing this it’s still being shared, three years later. For Stormzy the effect was quite the opposite – despite not being a footballer he would go on to have a successful career in the game, helping adidas and Moyes’ former employers Manchester United announce the signing of Paul Pogba, a world transfer record. It’s a video that’s likely to have turned Moyes pale, even in the Sociedad sunshine.

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Football and music’s biggest names have long enjoyed a healthy romance – whether that’s the Gallagher brothers’ highly public lifelong love affair with Manchester City, Adele shouting her support for Spurs onstage at an 02 Arena show, or Kasabian wildly celebrating Leicester winning the league. Even Lana Del Rey said how much she loves Anfield and “watching Luis Suarez”, back when the Uruguayan was leading the line. And in a broader sense, without music, football would be a vastly different, far more boring sport – the key component of any stadium, the identity of a club, is its songs. Liverpool’s ground in the minutes just before kick would just be anywhere else without the rousing tradition of 50,000 Scousers belting out “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, something that can be heard for miles around.

Recently, the relationship between football and music and their respective cultures has accelerated and become hypervisible, particularly as Britain’s cultural cache has drastically improved in relation to America’s. It’s little coincidence that Drake’s love of Section Boyz, Skepta and Giggs has led to his  all-encompassing obsession with our island and its culture – whether that’s him wearing a huge Stone Island chain (the football casual’s go-to brand), posing with Manchester United and Chelsea shirts (he hasn’t made up his mind), or saying “gyal” on Instagram.

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Virgil Abloh – who recently warmed up for Drake at a show in Art Basel Miami – is formerly Kanye West’s creative director, or as West prefers, his creative collaborator. The Ghanaian-American, Chicago-born designer started out as a DJ, then made his name with his first brand Pyrex Vision, before launching Off-White. He’s now head of menswear at Louis Vuitton, in a move that shook up the fashion world – Abloh has no formal fashion training. But what he does have is intense visibility, a huge social media following, and consequently the ability to sell more or less anything. Which is perhaps why Nike tapped him this year to design a range of football jerseys and the Mercurial Vapor 360 boot, along with Kim Jones, the former creative director of Louis Vuitton (now at Dior Homme) who acted as Abloh’s mentor and paved the way for him to take one of fashion’s top spots.

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Although he isn’t strictly a “musician”, Abloh certainly exists and operates within the upper echelons of that culture and his collaboration with Nike represented a merging of two worlds, at least in a corporate sense. At Nike London, the brand enlisted the likes of Abloh and Wizkid to launch a range of product alongside Neymar, Ronaldo and Eden Hazard, running shirt customising workshops, and a karaoke afterparty hosted by Skepta. The event took place a day after Nike launched their (now pulled) Nothing Beats A Londoner ad, featuring Giggs, Jorja Smith, People Just Do Nothing, Big Shaq, Jorja Smith, Dave and more.

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A possible reason for this is that while football is the biggest, most lucrative game in the world, the social media age has made it harder for footballers to have personalities off the pitch. These people in the Nike ad do genuinely represent London, the Arsenal team doesn’t. And a couple of Ibrahimovics and Ronaldos aside, football’s stars are suffering from an identity crisis – as in they aren’t afforded the opportunity to have one. For the most part, post-match interviews are so generic they’re laughable, and a pressure to compete athletically at the highest level means that partying is not just frowned upon, it’s front page news. Musicians don’t face that problem – personality and performance is their currency, which is why brands are so desperate to be associated with them. To thrive, or even survive, brands need to harness the power of culture, while simultaneously be seen to be supporting it. The unifying of music and football has worked the other way around too. Irrespective of the fact that not everyone loves his dress sense, Neymar is – along with CR7 – arguably one of the world’s only “rock star” footballers, an otherworldly superstar performing for a prestigious, oil-rich PSG side in a below par league. But he remains box office, which is why Beats By Dre “signed” him – he has an aura that can compete with any musician. Jimmy Iovine and Dre’s billion-dollar headphones have become a staple accessory for superstars stepping off the team coach, and seen the company become a disruptive, leading presence in a landscape traditionally dominated by kit suppliers, a force to be reckoned with in the continuing unification of music and the beautiful game.

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Read the full feature in SoccerBible Magazine Issue 11. It's available in stores as well as online here.