Creative Soccer Culture

Tune Into Jackson Irvine

We recently caught up with Australia and FC St. Pauli midfielder Jackson Irvine as part of our inaugural SoccerBible Insights paper (Guide to Creative Soccer Culture 2024). Find out more about his story and life off the pitch.

As I jump on a call one sunny afternoon to speak to Jackson Irvine, I wonder if his charm holds up in conversation just as much as it does on social media? The Australian footballer has made quite a name for himself beyond the game, thanks to his distinct character, and he is rising to prominence in the spheres of style and music. Irvine now has almost 200K followers on Instagram and his distinctive long hair and a moustache has a down-to-earth Aussie feel which grabbed so much attention in the 2022 World Cup. It’s quickly clear to me that none of this is an act, Irvine is very much the person he presents himself to be – charismatic, confident yet grounded, and cheery. And right now, the St. Pauli captain is at the top of his game having secured promotion to the Bundesliga and recently got married.

Born in Melbourne, there was a strong football influence on Irvine’s father’s side of the family. His father Steve Irvine emigrated from Scotland and played professionally for Doveton SC in Victoria, Australia. His uncle Sandy Irvine was a Soccerroo back in the 1970s but the footballer played Aussie Rules growing up. “In suburban Melbourne, AFL rules the world. The cool kids at school didn’t play football, it was a bit alternative I guess,” says Irvine. But it was the 31-year-old’s maternal grandfather (originally from Holland) who won him round and convinced him of the game’s global significance. 

Irvine 11 Min
Irvine 12 Min
Irvine 8 Min
Irvine 7 Min

Irvine is incredibly thankful for the way his family approached football. “I was so lucky to grow up in a really liberal household and family who encouraged expression,” he shares. “I played the trombone and guitar for a few years; in an emo band, a post-hardcore band, and a heavy metal band; then I would play football on the weekend.” The Australian was encouraged to practise his instruments with the same tenacity that he practised football, and his parents would play Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Lou Reed and Velvet Underground around the house. This creative environment laid the foundations for Irvine to develop into a unique player: a midfielder who plays with an infectious high-energy style.

He took this energy to Europe when he moved over in 2010 to play professionally for Celtic FC in Glasgow. “I basically grew up going to SubClub. People who know Glasgow or know the UK techno scene, it’s one of the most famous places,” says Irvine. While techno is something he still plays in his “game day preparations”, his music taste has expanded with every team he’s played for: the likes of Kilmarnock, Burton Albion, Hull City, Hibernian, and more. The football has developed a strong record collection along the way, featuring a range of local and global artists. Original Pirate Material from The Streets, I Love You, Hunny Bear from Father John Misty and Lou Reed’s Transformer all feature, and he has the latter tattooed on his left shoulder. 

Irvine 3 Min

The midfielder wound up signing with St. Pauli in 2021, and this is truly where Irvine’s music and football identities converged. “Here, if the fans recognise that you appreciate the club, that you work hard and that you’re there to give something back, they respect you, whoever you are. They particularly appreciate my musical background,” adds Irvine. St. Pauli is known for its deep association with the music scene in Hamburg - particularly the rock and punk scene. “Since I came to Germany, I’ve become more of a punk head, which ties perfectly to Hamburg and St. Pauli. My partner is also into punk so it’s been a great move for both of us.”

Many moments have crystallised the shared love of music between Irvine and his club. Before he walks out onto the midfield for every game, Hells Bells by AC/DC floods the stadium. “The Millerntor is rocking, the Jolly Roger flags are waving in the stands and those big power chords run right up your spine. An Aussie pub rock song on the football field, it’s perfect for me,” describes Irvine. He scored his first goal against Hansa Rostock in October 2021 to the sound of another one of his favourites, Song 2 by Blur. “I remember punching the air and soaking it all in while the fans chanted along. I don’t think there could have been a better time to score.”

Irvine 9 Min
Irvine 10 Min

Off the pitch, you can often find Irvine in the music venues around Hamburg. It might be at the local kneipe seeing some live music, or more recently, at alternative radio station Byte FM. “I’ve got a show called Heimspiel which means “home game” – a love letter back to St. Pauli and its music culture,” he explains. “It’s just a chance to share a little bit more about me and show something personal behind the music I’m liking right now.” It’s an important project for him and while he won’t be necessarily DJing, the footballer wouldn’t pass up the chance to “bring my backpack down and spin some records.” As busy as he is with his sport and new radio show, the 31-year-old still found the time to take some personal photos just for SoccerBible surrounded by his instruments and audio equipment.

St. Pauli has truly been where Irvine has come into his own. Back in the early professional days, he had to keep things a little more buttoned up playing for Celtic FC and Ross County – the clubs’ deep traditions often meant that players were expected to fall into order. “It was a step back in terms of conservatism. I was constantly getting told to cut my hair, don’t wear coloured boots, don’t do this and that,” he remembers. “God, if I’d have turned up with my fingernails painted, I would have probably got sacked.” Despite all this, Irvine stayed the course. He mentions David Beckham as a perennial influence that keeps him staying true to himself, no matter the environment. “What you saw from this guy...growing up, I was like ‘look at his hair, look at his long sleeves, look at the boots, look at everything.’ He can do whatever he wants.”

Irvine 1 Min

Images courtesy of Jackson Irvine.

About the Author
James Davis

Thought Leadership Director

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