8 times footballers made hilarious TV appearances (including that time Keown wanted to be more like Zola)

Martin Keown

With Steven Gerrard ready to perform a cameo in the second series of critically-acclaimed (it says here) CBBC kids drama 'Jamie Johnson', Nick Moore recalls some other real-life footballers who made good, bad and downright weird appearances on popular shows

1. Gary Lineker (All In The Game)

Lineker opted for a script about an English footballer who plays up front, makes a big-money move to Barcelona and, er, gets results

They say that you should write about what you know, so when Lineker decided to pen a TV drama back in 1993, he wisely decided against doing something about a troubled New York cop who uses unorthodox methods but gets results, and instead opted for a script about an English footballer who plays up front, makes a big-money move to Barcelona and, er, gets results.

Lloyd Owen – who later went on to star in Apollo 18 and Monarch of the Glen – starred as Darren Matthews, and Gaz naturally popped up in a cameo, as himself, to offer valuable tips like “don’t forget rule number one: score some goals, you dope!”

Gary Lineker

An English player thriving abroad? Sounds like an unrealistic plot

2. Robbie Keane (Mrs Brown’s Boys)

Keano 'played' a Mormon with a deeply dubious American accent, visiting the Irish matriarch in a DVD 'special episode'

How do you make a sitcom so risible that it was once described as “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps – only not as cerebral” even worse? Add an inexplicable but mercifully brief cameo from then-LA Galaxy and Ireland goal machine Robbie, that’s how.

Keano 'played' a Mormon with a deeply dubious American accent, visiting the Irish matriarch in a DVD 'special episode'. His sidekick is portrayed by snooker player Ken Doherty with almost as much gravitas.

“Robbie is a huge Mrs Brown fan, and he rang up looking for a small part,” explained Brendan O’Carroll, the show’s star and creator, later. “So I made them Mormons, who call at her door to convert them. Robbie often rings up and leaves me messages in a Mrs Brown voice.” Banter, eh?

02:03 for Keane's appearance

3. Kenny Dalglish (Scully)

They didn’t want me originally, because it had been written for Kevin Keegan

- Kenny Dalglish

Playwright Alan Bleasdale’s radio-series-turned-play eventually became a classic slice of eighties comic drama. Its Liverpool-obsessed teenage hero dreams about running out in front of a Kop chanting “there’s only one Franny Scully”. 

Among other surreal flights of fancy (including the school caretaker becoming a vampire) he memorably hallucinates famous Liverpool players – including King Kenny, who appears in the street, shop windows, and – marvellously – dressed as a fairy godmother, dispensing advice. “They didn’t want me originally, because it had been written for Kevin Keegan,” Dalglish revealed to FourFourTwo. “But Kevin left, so I filled in. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever be a thespian.”

06:48 for the first flash of King Kenny

4. Luis Boa Morte (Grange Hill)

He managed to dodge getting involved in any of the show’s big 'issues' – knife crime, heroin, disability, homosexuality

The gnarly Portuguese winger, who had spells at Arsenal, Southampton, Fulham, West Ham and Chesterfield – and is currently manager of Sintrense back in his homeland – received one of the ultimate London accolades: a 1999 cameo in Grange Hill.

He managed to dodge getting involved in any of the show’s big 'issues' – knife crime, heroin, disability, homosexuality – instead landing the plum role of footballer Boa Morte, handing out prizes on a school sports day with a cheesy grin on his face. Why not?

Boa Morte presents the trophy at 20:48