Ryan Reynolds went from joy to despair, and punch-the-air ecstasy to desolation.
The unlikely new love of his life — Welsh soccer club Wrexham — put the movie star on an emotional roller-coaster Sunday in a thrill-a-minute FA Cup match that had an ending not quite in the script.
Wrexham, the fifth-tier team bought by Reynolds and fellow Hollywood actor Rob McElhenney for $2.5 million in November 2020 on the recommendation of one of their writers, conceded in the fifth minute of stoppage time to draw 3-3 with Sheffield United.
Reynolds and one of his daughters flew in for the fourth-round match at the atmospheric Racecourse Ground in north Wales, about 50 kilometres south of Liverpool, and went through a whole range of emotions as the goals poured in at either end.
He’s getting used to it by now.
“I’m now so much in love with this sport that I actually hate it,” Reynolds, a Canadian-born actor best known for starring in the “Deadpool” movies, told the BBC before the match.
“Each match I’m pacing around like a caged lion.”
With 71 places between the teams in English soccer’s pyramid, Wrexham came close to a big upset to add to a long line in its history. The team beat then-English champion Arsenal in the third round in 1992 and also reached the quarterfinals in the 1996-97 season, when it was in the third tier.
This was the biggest occasion since Reynolds and McElhenney, an American actor and director who was the creator of TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” took over.
Fans serenaded Reynolds, who was in one of the directors’ boxes and was standing for most of the game, with a chant of “There’s only one Ryan Reynolds” near the end of the match.
Wrexham was ahead 3-2 at the time and looked set to complete a win against an opponent that was reduced to 10 men when Canadian-born Daniel Jebbison was red-carded in the 71st minute for kicking out at a Wrexham player.
The 19-year-old Sheffield United forward is the youngest of three brothers (along with Micah and Jonathan) who came up through the ANB Futbol academy in King City, Ont., before the family left Milton, Ont., for England to pursue the boys’ football dream.
Jebbison has previously played for England’s youth teams but is eligible for Canada.
Reynolds was seen walking across the field and to the locker room after the final whistle to speak to the players.
And he has a sequel to look forward to: Wrexham and Sheffield United will meet in a replay next month. Wrexham beat another second-tier team, Coventry, in the previous round.
The new Hollywood owners are using Wrexham for a behind-the-scenes TV series called “Welcome To Wrexham,” which is on Disney+.
Reynolds said he hopes to lead Wrexham into the Premier League.
“The plan is now, and has always been, the Premier League,” Reynolds said. “I can’t really put a date on that. But if it’s theoretically possible to go from fifth division to Premier League, why wouldn’t we do it?”
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Steve Douglas, The Associated Press
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