Freestyle footballer does 500,000 keepie-uppies on frozen lake in -20C temps

Freestyle footballer John Farnworth travelled 50 miles across a frozen Siberian lake while doing half-a-million keepie uppies.

The 34-year-old defied temperatures of minus 20C to keep the ball up in the air for two days while he crossed the world’s deepest and oldest lake.

John, who stopped only to nap, eat or go to the loo, kept the ball in the air for up to eight hours each day as he crossed Lake Baikal.

On the second day the back of his left leg and knee started to seize up but he pushed on.

He said: “It was caused by a mix of not sleeping great and frequently coming in and out of the hot and cold.

“I really started to worry if I could continue and I was worried I was going to let people down.

“For the first time it was a real struggle. I just knew I was going to go on until I could not go on any more.”

John, from Preston, Lancs, who was aiming to raise £10,000 for Cancer Research, has previously done 250,000 keepie uppies while crossing the Sahara Desert.

But he said Lake Baikal presented his “hardest challenge physically” because he had to juggle the ball while wearing several layers of clothes.

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He added: "In the end I took layers off but when I took the layers off my face started to freeze."

"I tried to get the right amount of layers so I was not too hot or too cold.

"It was -20 in the morning. It went up to minus five in day where it felt quite warm then dipped back down.

"I got used to being uncomfortable.

"My body was definitely tested without much recovery.’’

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To prepare for the trek – designed to raise £10,000 for Cancer Research – he spoke to Brit explorer Ash Routen, who crossed the lake during a 19-day expedition in 2018.

John is awaiting confirmation he broke a world record for the furthest distance covered in an hour while keeping a ball under control on ice.

The distance of 4.77km is yet to be approved but he says he has enough evidence to get it over the line.

Keepie uppies involve keeping a ball in the air using feet, knees, chest and head without letting it touch the ground.

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