AN OPERA singer from Oswaldtwistle has been tasked with being the 2018 World Cup’s answer to Pavarotti.

Sir John Tomlinson, 71, is the voice of Ochi Cheryne - the traditional Russian folk song used to accompany the BBC’s History Will be Made campaign promoting the tournament.

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It is hoped the modern version of the song, which also features a 40-piece orchestra, will become as iconic as Luciano’s Pavarotti performance of Nessun Dorma for Italia 1990.

Bass-baritone Sir John recorded the song at Abbey Road Studios, in London, and the lyrics speak of unification and friendship.

The campaign was launched last month during half time of the FA Cup final and will be frequently seen at the start of World Cup coverage over the next month.

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Sir John says his current global reach can be traced back to his origins in Oswaldtwistle.

He said: “I owe my enthusiasm for singing to the Lancashire community and family I grew up with.

“We regularly sang round the piano at home, many members of my extended family were singers, conductors, organists and pianists. All strictly amateur of course and proud of it.

“As a teenager I was told I had an unusually strong voice and at the age of 21 I made the decision to attempt to become a professional singer.”

Sir John sings in Russian as animated tapestry graphics re-enact some of the World Cup’s most iconic moments.

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Some of the famous players featured include Argentina’s Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, from France, and England’s Paul Gascoigne.

More than 227,000 metres of thread were used to create over 600 unique frames of tapestry, that if laid end-to-end would measure over 1,200m in length.

James Parry, from the BBC, said: “The World Cup is steeped in stories, and our campaign brings to life some of its most memorable moments with a unique interpretation of a centuries-old Russian tradition.

“It is accompanied by a traditional and iconic piece of music which we all fell in love with instantly.”

The World Cup takes place in Russia from June 14 until July 15.