10 footballers who tried different sports… with mixed results

Ivan Perisic beach volleyball

Poor Rio Ferdinand has been refused a professional boxing licence before even getting into the ring – but perhaps he’s just saved himself some angst, unlike many of this lot...

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

1. Just not cricket for Lineker

The crisp broadcaster, who can seamlessly switch from sharp suits to pants-only attire, also swapped football boots for cricket ones when he played for the MCC against old foe Germany in 1992 at Lord’s.

Lineker strode out to bat in whites at cricket’s equivalent of Wembley but was caught for a solitary run. “I always score one against Germany,” he joked.

The match ended in a draw, a bit like the football, but thankfully there was no shootout this time.

Gary Lineker

2. Dudek’s in the driving seat

After retiring from football in 2013, Liverpool’s second-most famous pair of spaghetti legs returned to Poland to compete in a 24-hour endurance motor race.

Dudek even managed to rack up a couple of podium finishes to add to his League Cup and Champions League medals. “You can leave the funny things for outside of the car,” he noted, “but when you close the door and it’s just you and the car, with 100 cars around you on the track, then you think 'wow, this is serious now, it’s not a joke anymore'.”

3. Allen’s field goal cameo

Clive Allen’s golden boots bagged 49 goals in 54 appearances for Tottenham in 1986/87. A decade later, the striker had a brief spell as specialist goal kicker for the London Monarchs in the European NFL.

Allen, however, admitted later that he wasn’t mentally ready to be roughed up on the field. “I didn’t think a kicker would get hit,” he wailed. “I thought it was a case of me coming onto the field, giving the ball a good thump and then going off.”

Harry Kane is a self-confessed American football fan and has also vowed to become a kicker when his football career ends. “Even if I got to play just one game it’s something I would like to do,” he said in 2015.

Clive Allen

4. Maldini’s 42-minute tennis career  

Il Capitano made his professional tennis debut last year in a Milan doubles match alongside Stefano Landonio. “We tried to enjoy the moment, because I didn’t expect I’d be able to experience something like this at the age of 49,” he mused.

Landonio, formerly ranked 975th in the world, claimed Maldini had no weaknesses, but the duo lost 6-1, 6-1 in 42 minutes. The Milan legend pulled a muscle on the first point

5. Wiese goes wild in WWE

The Bundesliga bad boy and ex-Germany international turned his back on football in 2014 after being exiled from Hoffenheim’s first team for getting thrown out of a party.

The Werder Bremen hero focused on bulking up his body instead, eating 1kg of meat every day. Wiese made his official WWE debut in Munich in 2016, under the nickname ‘The Machine’, winning a tag team bout with the rather tame-sounding combo of Sheamus and Cesaro.

He returned to the football pitch for a one-off match with SSV Dillingen in Germany’s eighth tier in 2017, making his presence felt in a taut pink number. Presumably nobody dared trying to score past him.