ZOO vs Tinchy Stryder

We received an interesting phone call recently. 'Chart-topping MC Tinchy Stryder wants to do an interview,' his agent said. 'But only if you take  him and his band on at 5-a-side football.'

Ever up for a challenge (and boasting an undefeated football outfit), we rounded up an 'elite' squad and squared off against Tinchy and his cohorts. And not even a hat-trick from the pint-sized striker could prevent a 10-8 ZOO victory…

Firstly, bad luck, Tinchy. You and your boys just weren’t quite in ZOO’s class tonight…
Shut up, it was a narrow defeat! We just didn’t have the stamina and you boys have a decent keeper.

Despite our victory, you’re a useful player. Do you still play a bit now?

I got my hat-trick! It’s hard finding time these days, but I used to play every Sunday. I’ve not got the fitness any more, but I’ve still got my touch. I’m like the original Ronaldo: fast and skilful. Although I didn’t score as many goals as I should have.

Are you looking forward to releasing your new album?
I can’t wait to get it out there! It’s a big time of year to bring out an album, as you have Take That, JLS, Rihanna, Kanye and everyone competing. I don’t want to avoid the big names – I want to pit myself against all that lot. 

Is it tricky finding stuff to rap about now you’re famous?
It’s hard because when you’re trying to make it, you’ve got the same inspiration as everyone else. Now I’m at a certain level, so if you try too hard to sound like you’re 'keeping it real', it’s going to sound terrible…

So you’re feeling the pressure?
Massively. As soon as you get some success, you’ve got something to lose. That’s why the album’s called Third Strike – it’s the big one, loaded with pressure for me to smash out of the park.

But life’s good, right?
I’d never complain, because life’s amazing. It’s just so weird. I was never allowed into raves, and now I get paid just to go and stand in a nightclub!

So you’re enjoying the celebrity lifestyle?
It’s great. Like hanging out with Jay-Z; he’s the coolest guy in the world, and I’m backstage in his dressing-room, chilling with Beyoncé and Drake and they all know my name. It’s crazy.

You’re also a proper little businessman these days, with your Star In The Hood clothing everywhere…
Yeah, I’ve just done a deal with JD Sports, which is huge. When I was at school, I’d save the money my mum gave me for school dinners to get a pair of sick trainers from there! Now I’ve done a deal with Jay-Z to launch the clothes with him over in America. I’ll go online and see Rihanna wearing them!

Have you been watching this series of The X Factor?
Yeah, I was there the other day. I like Cher Lloyd, she’s killing it. I’d love to see about doing something with her when she’s out. She’s a cool girl. Rebecca’s beautiful and sounds incredible, too. I’d love to be a judge on that show. I’d be like old-school Simon, telling them exactly what needs to be told. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind.

You’re often seen out and about with all manner of hot girls… What’s your secret?
Well, I’m giving an open invitation to ZOO readers to come and roll with me, see what it’s all about! You’ve just got to be yourself. If I used a line on a girl and she fell for it, I wouldn’t like her. Someone told me the other day I was supposedly going out with Pixie Lott, but we’re just mates. I’m not sure I’d want to go out with anyone famous, anyway.

And you’re huge on Twitter right now, too…
Yeah, it’s a great way to connect with other artists and fans, although it can be pretty weird seeing what the fans are thinking. I try and stay off for a while because it’s tempting to react to some of the people trying to wind you up! Plus there are hundreds of girls on there – and they’re crazy! I don’t think I could hook up with someone over Twitter like that. Well, maybe…

Tinchy Stryder’s new album Third Strike is out now

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