Who is Grant Wahl? ‘Ted Lasso’ Season 3 Honors Late Soccer Writer

THERE’S ONE thing everyone knows when watching the third—and possibly final—season of Apple TV+’s smash hit series Ted Lasso: it’s a show about soccer. Duh. But what those watching may not have realized is that Season 3’s plot was influenced by real life—and the work of the late soccer journalist Grant Wahl—more than anyone even realized.

At the end of the Season 3, Episode 4 episode titled “Big Week,” a dedication to Wahl appeared on screen. “In Memory of Grant Wahl,” it says. This would make sense even if Wahl had only a passing connection to the show; Ted Lasso is a show about Soccer, and Wahl was one of the sport’s most prominent journalists of the last two decades. But, as his widow, Dr. Céline Gounder, detailed in a Twitter thread, Season 3’s Ted Lasso plot is largely based on Wahl’s work. “This episode means so much to me and my family,” she wrote.

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In the episode, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) is seen holding Wahl’s book The Beckham Experiment, which was a deep dive into the time when the Los Angeles Galaxy added David Beckham—a superstar—to their club.

Gounder’s thread continues to point out the similarities between real life and what’s played out in the show. In the same way that the Galaxy added Beckham, this season AFC Richmond has added its own world-class player named Zava.

We previously thought that Zava was only based on Zlatan Ibrahimović, but Gounder observantly noted that he’s very much influenced by Beckham in this way as well. And, as her thread also points out, just as Wahl shadowed the Galaxy during their first season with Beckham, Trent Crimm (James Lance) is shadowing Richmond during their first season with Zava.

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Who is Grant Wahl?

Grant Wahl was a highly-respected and accomplished soccer journalist who, through the years, wrote for CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and authored his own book, titled The Beckham Experiment. After his time with Sports Illustrated, he struck out on his own, starting a Substack and his own soccer podcast. Wahl died on December 10, 2022, while on assignment covering the World Cup in Qatar; his cause of death at only 49 was eventually revealed to be due to a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

As it turns out, Wahl was actually a key part of Ted Lasso‘s process when it came to developing the journalist character of Trent Crimm (formerly of The Independent), because the powers that be behind the show realized what Dr. Gounder realized above—just like Trent is embedding himself with Richmond, Wahl had embedded himself with the Galaxy.

“We reached out to him with a few questions, hoping he might have some time to give us some quick answers,” Brendan Hunt, who in addition to playing Coach Beard is also a co-creator of and writer on the show, told IndieWire. “He gave us voluminous responses to every single question that were so helpful. Putting the Trent story together, he was just so generous with his time. It’s a really, really terrible loss.”

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Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.

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