What Happened To Jake Nickless: The Mascot Who Pranked Steven Gerrard In The Tunnel
It's a moment that remains etched in Steven Gerrard's memory.
In his 2009 autobiography 'My Captains Book' the former Liverpool captain claims it was the only time he smiled in the tunnel before kick-off. "If it was an adult I would have wanted to wring their neck!" he said.
The date was February 5, 2006 and all eyes were on reigning Premier League champions Chelsea as they came up against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Jose Mourinho's side were heavy favourites for the clash and as expected, the Blues would go 15 points clear in the title race after goals from William Gallas and Hernan Crespo secured a 2-0 win.
But for the millions watching at home, this clash will forever be remembered as the day a cheeky blue-haired mascot mugged off one of the world's best players.
It all began in the tunnel ahead of kick-off.
Led by captain John Terry, the home side walked out of the dressing room first ahead of the Super Sunday clash and tensions were high.
Liverpool captain Gerrard soon followed and, as he walked down the famous stairs, Chelsea fan Jake Nickless extended his arm to greet the player.
But moments later, in a soon-to-be viral moment, Nickless left the England international hanging in mid-air.
Gerrard laughed off the incident and later claimed that Chelsea captain John Terry wasn't happy with what happened in the tunnel that day, but what about the other side of the story?
"I remember my dad putting me up to it," former Chelsea mascot Jake told SPORTbible, 14 years after the incident.
"I kept saying I wasn't going to do it and I think he eventually believed it, so he stopped.
"But in the moment I was just excited and thought why not. I knew the game was also on TV and loads of people were watching, so I just provided a bit of entertainment."
Liverpool's captain later revealed he saw the funny side of it in his autobiography, and so did a number of other Chelsea players, according to Jake, who is now 19-years-old.
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"Me and Gerrard actually didn't speak at all, All I said was "Gerrard!" to get his attention.
"I remember Claude Makelele and Michael Essien laughing as it happened, and John Terry gave me a pat on the head afterwards, when I walked back to hold his hand.
"I think everyone found it funny, apart from Stevie G."
Footage of Jake pranking Gerrard would eventually make its way into the mainstream media and because of all the attention, he was forced to leave school early the following afternoon.
"The next day the school and my mum were getting phone calls asking for interviews from newspapers," he said.
"She had to come and pick me up for a half day to go home it was all a bit crazy.
"The parents from school wanted pictures so that people believed it was actually me."
It turns out the story of Jake Nickless in football isn't over just yet, either.
The 19-year-old, who now plays for North Greenford United in the South Midlands League, is trying to make a name for himself professionally after spending time at National League South side Dulwich Hamlet.
"I am currently trying to break in to the pro game myself," he tells us.
"I've played for numerous teams at good levels, and recently captained The Tonsser All Star team; an up and coming app for players who haven't been signed yet.
"So hopefully my chance is coming very soon."
Nickless says he still attends Chelsea games, both home and away, and his plans for the future include playing football "at the highest level possible."
Not to mention one day having a mascot pulling a little trick on him in the tunnel.
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