• James Ward-Prowse and Jack Stephens challenged Saints fan Sammy Bicknell to an online gaming experience with a twist, appearing virtually as a 4K hologram from St Mary’s Stadium right to the centre of a London living room
  • Southampton FC Women’s team members Laura Rafferty and Ciara Watling also joined in for some intense gameplay
  • The hologram technology was powered by Virgin Media O2’s gigabit broadband as the network provider celebrates the roll out of gigabit speeds to its entire network of 15.5 million homes across the UK

Thursday 16th December: Virgin Media has teamed up with Southampton Football Club to surprise Saints megafan Sammy Bicknell with a gaming experience she’ll never forget with her favourite players appearing as super realistic 4k holograms, giving the illusion of being in the very same room.

Club captain James Ward-Prowse, Jack Stephens and women’s players Laura Rafferty and Ciara Watling shocked Sammy as she arrived at Virgin Media’s ‘living room of the future’ for a day of online gaming.

Thanks to Virgin Media’s hyperfast gigabit broadband speeds, which are now available across its entire network across the UK, each player was ‘beamed’ via hologram into the same room as Sammy, much to her shock and delight.

Even cooler, and to the envy of Saints fans everywhere, she was able to challenge the players to some online football games while interacting with them via hologram.

Gaming through the hologram brings to life how the future of online gaming with friends could be different and even more connected and meaningful. This comes as research by Virgin Media O2 reveals that more than half (60%) of Brits cite gaming as their new favourite way of communicating and 40% would prefer to game against friends via hologram than in person.

A recent Saints Works graduate, Sammy recently took part in the Hampshire FA and Mind mental health football tournament as the only female player representing the Saints Works team.

In recognition of her dedication to the team, Virgin Media and Southampton FC were able to give Sammy the ultimate festive surprise, leading Sammy to declare it ‘totally amazing’ to play against her idols in hologram form.

Sammy added: “I couldn’t believe it when the players appeared as a hologram, I didn’t know what was going on and how they got there! It was so much fun playing video games with them and the technology was so cool.”

To make the day even extra special for Sammy, the Southampton men’s and women’s players gave her a signed shirt from all of the team.

James Ward-Prowse, Southampton FC captain, said:

“All of the players were absolutely blown away by this incredible hologram device, powered by Virgin Media’s gigabit broadband speeds. It was amazing meeting Sammy using the technology as the impact of Covid-19 has meant that we haven’t been able to get as close to our fans as we would have liked to. Sammy was a great sport and she didn’t hold back in giving us some tactical advice to put in to practice when we take to the pitch at St Mary’s.”

This once-in-a-lifetime experience for Sammy was made possible as part of Virgin Media O2 celebrating the roll out of gigabit speeds to its entire network of 15.5 million homes across the UK.

As part of this celebration, the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, also took to hologram form to meet his megafan to play some online video games.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “This incredible hologram technology, powered by our gigabit broadband speeds, has enabled a lifelong Southampton FC fan to play an online football video game with her favourite players as if they were in the same room – it doesn’t get any cooler than that.  Next generation connectivity and our hyperfast gigabit network will unlock new and innovative ways for us to make better use of the technology of today and tomorrow to help us build more meaningful connections with loved ones.”

Virgin Media O2’s gigabit broadband network is the largest in the UK and provides speeds 22 times faster than the national average. To find out more about Virgin Media’s Gig1 Broadband and the packages offered, visit HERE.


Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
press@virginmediao2.co.uk 01753 565656
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