THEY are well used to performing on the big stage.

Matt Le Tissier and Francis Benali each played hundreds of times for Saints in the Premier League in front of thousands of fans and millions of TV viewers.

Now they will be seen in a new role – making their acting debuts in a newly-commissioned play about to take audiences by storm.

The Saints – about the highs and lows of being a Saints fan – is taking centre stage in a series of events marking Southampton’s 50th anniversary as a city.

It receives its premiere on Friday at a specially constructed theatre in Guildhall Square.

The former Saints stars will feature as themselves in cameo roles in pre-recorded film segments.

They are fondly remembered by fans for their loyalty and long service to the club – both played from the mid-1980s until the early 2000s.

Matt Le Tissier was a striker or attacking midfielder who remained loyal to Saints for his entire professional club career.

The Saints’ highest ever scorer, his loyalty earned him special affection from Southampton fans who nicknamed him “Le God”.

Southampton-born Benali was a tough-tackling defender. His status among the supporters was such that his testimonial match in 1997 was a sell-out.

The Saints will open the Art at the Heart festival, a summer party from August 1-17 organised by the Nuffield Theatre to celebrate Southampton’s 50th anniversary as a city.

It also stars Scarlett Alice Johnson, best known for playing Vicki Fowler in EastEnders.

The Saints will be performed daily throughout the festival – except Monday, August 11 – in a pop-up theatre in Guildhall Square. It has been inspired by The Dell, Saints’ former ground.

Sam Hodges, creative and executive director of the Nuffield, said: “As Nuffield and the city celebrate their joint 50th birthday, I can’t think of a better party than a project which marries two of its greatest strengths – culture and football, with Southampton’s community the essential revellers and guests.”

For tickets call 023 8067 1771 or visit