For several minutes during the Olympics Closing Ceremonies, musician Ed Sheeran felt the whole world’s eyes on him. Sheeran, a 21-year-old Brit whose 2011 debut album is four-times platinum in the U.K. and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200, sang a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” as a man high-wired above the Olympic Stadium in one of the most memorable moments of the show.
Sheeran took a few minutes to speak to ESPN Playbook about the experience.
ESPN Playbook: You’re 21 and still an up-and-coming artist. How did you get the opportunity to play on one of the world’s biggest stages?
Ed Sheeran: I had done a couple of events with the guy that put on the ceremony (creative director Kim Gavin). He basically turned up to my managers map for a cup of tea, and he said he’s putting this thing together that calls for a guy with an acoustic guitar. There’s going to be a guy with a tightrope above it, and blah, blah, blah. I just said, ‘Yeah, for sure.’
What was it like to play on such a big stage?
It was very humbling and a massive honor. It’s been such a good thing for our country. It’s a really positive thing to be able to play a closing event with such legends in the music game. It’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever done or ever will do. I think it was an audience of like 3.9 billion people. It’s the biggest thing I’ll ever do. It’ll probably be the most memorable thing I’ll ever do.
That’s crazy your biggest audience came so soon in your career.
Yeah, biggest audience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be something bigger in a sense of achievement.
Did you get to spend any time at the Games before your performance?
Just the day of, I got there at 10 a.m. and I went on stage at 10:30 p.m., and in between then I did absolutely nothing. I met some of my heroes.
Did you get to meet any of the athletes?
I didn’t get to meet any athletes. We were kind of backstage, and it was all musicians. I met Andy Murray around 3 months ago in Miami; he came to my show there. He’d probably be the only athlete on the U.K. team I’ve met.
Were you stoked when he finally beat Roger Federer in the gold medal match?
Of course. He got so close in Wimbledon, but to be on home turf, the Olympics, for that year and to win a gold medal against the guy that beat him in Wimbledon. I think the whole country was very, very happy.
Is there anyone bigger in the U.K. than Andy Murray right now?
He’s pretty much the biggest tennis player we’ve got. It’s kind of like tiger woods for you guys with golf. Tiger is the biggest golfer you had for a very long time. That’s kind of how Andy Murray is for us.
With your constant touring, do you get much time to catch sports these days?
I haven’t seen a live game of sport in quite a long time. But when I get time off I’ll definitely go. I live very near a football stadium in London, so I’ll go.
Sheeran begins an 18-stop tour of the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 8 in Orlando, Fla. For complete tour dates, visit his website.