Ten footballers with surprising side interests

Date published: Thursday 11th February 2016 5:30 - Mark Holmes

Theo Walcott and Petr Cech: Discussing books or music?

Mathieu Flamini has been tipped to become a billionaire before long, but the Arsenal midfielder is not the only footballer to have an interesting side project

With Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini recently announcing his role as the joint-founder of a revolutionary energy company, it got us thinking about other current and retired football stars that indulge in interesting, unexpected or lucrative interests after a hard day’s training.

Some players clearly yearn for extra-curricular activities a little different from the usual occupations of punditry, coaching or sleeping with copious amounts glamour models…

Theo Walcott – Children’s author

Stereotype dictates that most footballers can be found wanting when it comes to intelligence. The notion has been furthered by monotone post-match interviews and the fact that most footballers’ private lives are only discussed when they’ve broken the law or slept with someone they shouldn’t have. Bucking this trend spectacularly is Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, who like Frank Lampard became a published author in 2010 with a range of fictional books. Granted, the stories are aimed at kids, and yes, they do revolve around a footballer who looks exactly like Walcott, but titles such as T.J. and The Cup Run and T.J. and The Winning Goal have been well received and are still on sale today. 

Petr Cech – YouTube drumming videos

While we all know the Czech goalkeeper is a behemoth between the sticks, he’s also pretty handy with a pair of sticks. The Arsenal man regularly uploads videos of himself drumming along to artists as diverse as Foo Fighters, Rihanna and U2 – and even more impressively, back in 2013, Cech visited Queen drummer Roger Taylor at his home studio for a jam. A jam session with one of the blokes that wrote Bohemian Rhapsody for god’s sake. For proof of his drumming prowess, take a look at Petr’s belting cover of Anna Molly by Incubus

Dion Dublin – The Dube

Not content with simply playing the drums, ex-Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin went one better and actually invented one. Similar to a Cajón, the Dube is a wooden, cube-shaped instrument with four playable sides and an internal microphone. Although it’s something you’re unlikely to find your average pub band using, the Dube has received praise from the drumming community. Dion even played the instrument live with Ocean Colour Scene at a 2011 gig which, although not quite ‘jamming with a member of Queen’, is still pretty impressive. Drumming exploits aside, Dion Dublin recently became the host of Homes Under The Hammer, ensuring a CV vastly more colourful that your regular retired footballer.

Slaven Bilić – Rock band

Given his strong-minded and straight-talking approach to management, it may not come as a total surprise that in his spare time, the West Ham gaffer enjoys playing rhythm guitar in Croatian hard rock outfit Rawbau. The group’s sound is reminiscent of a European Alter Bridge, and they’re surprisingly, quite good. Given his audacious start with the Hammers, however, Bilić shouldn’t drop his current career for musical stardom quite yet. Check out their song recorded for the 2008 Euros, Vatreno Ludilo, for a fine slice of melodic, football inspired radio-rock.

The Class of 92 – Own half of Manchester

Perhaps the most well-known entry on this list but worth mentioning due to the scale of the businesses involved. In 2014, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers purchased Salford City F.C. with the intention of developing the semi-pro club and advancing them through the leagues. They have been hands-on owners ever since, to the chagrin of some of the club’s fans. Additionally, Gary and Ryan also own a chain of football-themed restaurants and hotels. The quintet appear to be making successes of their business ventures, despite having to juggle them with media and coaching commitments, proving that their work-ethic off the pitch is as impressive as it was in their days on it.

Joleon Lescott – Clothing line

When it comes to stylish footballers, names such as Pirlo, Beckham and Alonso spring to mind. One player you probably wouldn’t associate with the world of fashion is Aston Villa defender Joleon Lescott. And yet he, along with his brother Aaron and fellow footballer Jordan Stewart, is responsible for the imaginatively titled ‘Lescott Stewart Collection’. The company claims to offer ‘high-end style and mainstream accessibility’ and if you’re looking to spend upwards of £30 on a plain white t-shirt, it could be right up your street.

Craig Johnston – Invented the Adidas Predator

Despite having a hand in Liverpool’s 1980s glory days, Craig Johnston isn’t a name often on the lips of football fans in 2016. But after halting his playing career at the tender age of 27 in order to care for his sister, the Australian midfielder has had a rollercoaster professional life, experiencing both massive success and eventual bankruptcy. Most notably, Johnston was the brainchild behind the legendary Adidas Predator boot, the holy grail for free-kick takers worldwide. The innovation of arguably the greatest football boot of all time aside, Johnston has also developed software for hotels, pioneered the SoccerSkills coaching system for children and now works as a photographer taking artistic shots of shop-window mannequins.

Marcus Hahnemann – Metalcore vocalist

Without wanting to stereotype, not many footballers look like they listen to heavy metal more than former Everton and Wolves goalkeeper, Marcus Hahnemann. The big American put his musical credentials to the test in 2012 by collaborating on a tune with UK-based band, Malefice. The track, entitled Omega, featured as part of Jägermeister’s ‘Ice Cold Session’ promotion, and Marcus provides some low, guttural growls that don’t sound at all out of place next to those of Malefice’s regular vocalist. You can listen to the song below, but be warned, it’s not for fans of Taylor Swift.

Gerard Pique – Professional Poker

It’s a hard life for Gerard Pique. After a long day making children with Shakira and winning trophies with Barcelona and Spain, the defender understandably needs time to get away from it all and unwind. Luckily, Gerard can escape the daily 9-to-5 grind with a few rounds of Poker. We aren’t just talking about a mates game in the back of bar, though, Pique has competed in high stakes matches at tournaments such as the European Poker Tour and the World Series in Las Vegas. He is often accompanied at the table by team-mate Neymar, who has also attracted plaudits for his Poker playing, but the Spanish defender has the edge, currently standing 163rd in Spain’s all-time winnings list. As we said, hard life.

Maximilian Beister – The SnaxCup

When most of us buy snacks at a cinema, the journey from the food kiosk to your seat is usually spent promising yourself that never again will you pay that much money for popcorn that tastes of cardboard or flat, watery coke and that next time, you’ll remember to smuggle in your own snacks. For Mainz forward Maxi Beister, however, this short journey proved to be a pivotal entrepreneurial moment in his life. After struggling to hold both his snack and his beverage, Maxi was inspired to create the SnaxCup: a large plastic cup with a bowl on top for your grub and a straw running through the middle. Although the story sounds suspiciously like the plot of an episode of The Simpsons, the SnaxCup was trialled during a Bundesliga match at the Imtech Arena in 2014 and received favourable feedback from fans.

By Craig Elvy

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