From a couple of goalscoring strikers and their love for horses to a former Hammer who swapped walloping opposing forwards to walloping golf balls around, some ex-footballers do some weird and wonderful sporting things when they've got a bit too much time on their hands...
Gabriel Batistuta: Polo
Football isn’t the only sport the British took to South America only to be thrashed at every opportunity by those who adopted it. Polo is another such game, and Argentina has become the world capital of the sport with more 10-handicap players than any other nation in the world – which apparently means that they’re very good at it.
Former Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta is a big fan and even owns his own team and horses: La Gloria play in purple and their coat of arms is very similar to Batigol’s beloved Fiorentina.
Clive Allen: American Football
Allen knows all about kicking a ball between a couple of posts, so a move into American football with the now defunct London Monarchs seemed like a reasonable enough move following the conclusion of his football career.
There was only one issue, though: “I didn’t think a kicker would get hit,” Allen said after his gridiron debut. “I thought it was a case of me coming onto the field, giving the ball a good thump and then going off.”
Julian Dicks: Golf
Dicks was renowned for being a dirty player in his footballing days with Birmingham, West Ham and Liverpool, and he proved in retirement that he was also good at striking golf balls as well as opponents.
“Golf’s meant to be a gentleman’s sport but I tended to lose my rag when I fluffed a shot," he once said. "I ended up smashing loads of my club.” That didn’t stop him from joining the European Professional Development Tour in 2007.
Jerzy Dudek: Motor racing
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid shot-stopper took up motor racing after hanging up his gloves in 2013. "There are many similarities between keeping goal and racing a car," Dudek explained to FourFourTwo. "My position in goal is about making quick decisions during the game. When you are racing in the car you have to do the same, especially when you have to defend or attack and control the car.
“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.'”
Ivan Perisic: Beach volleyball
Most footballers head to the beach during the off-season, and many probably play a bit of volleyball in between soaking up the rays and having a dip in the ocean. But Inter and Croatia winger Perisic went further in summer 2017 when he took part in the FIVB Porec Major competition alongside some of the world's best players.
The 29-year-old, who has been playing since the age of 10, said with some seriousness: “I’ve been given permission to play in a beach volleyball tournament of the highest importance. My only wish is to stay in the tournament for as long as possible.” Unfortunately, his team were thumped by Brazil and failed to make it out of the pool.
Gary Lineker: Cricket
Ex England striker Lineker was an outstanding cricketer as a schoolboy and he played as often as possible after choosing a football apprenticeship with Leicester.
His exploits include playing for Somerset in a Centenary Challenge Match against Gloucestershire, scoring a century in a charity match against the likes of Courtney Walsh before hitting a hat-trick for Spurs in a pre-season friendly that evening, and scoring one run against Germany for the MCC in 1992 at Lord’s.
Paolo Maldini: Tennis
Milan and Italy great Maldini made his professional tennis debut at the ATP Challenger Aspria Tennis Cup in Milan last summer, gaining a wildcard and playing in the doubles 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,” said Maldini, who would’ve enjoyed it a lot more had he not pulled a muscle in the very first point of the match against Poland’s Tomasz Bendarek and David Pel from the Netherlands. The Italian duo lost 6-1, 6-1 in 42 minutes.
Michael Owen: Horse racing
Owen’s love of the horses is well known and he’s indulged his passion for the gee-gees since his retirement from the game, founding the Manor House Stables with his wife Louise in 2007.
Too tall to be a professional jockey at 5ft 8in, Owen initially got involved in the training side of the sport, but he did ride in a charity race at Ascot last year, finishing second on Calder Prince over seven furlongs.
Tim Wiese: American wrestling
Many footballers look forward to an end to the early mornings and brutal pre-season training when hanging up their boots, but not former Germany international goalkeeper Tim Wiese. If anything, his workload increased – the ex-Werder man went from lithe ex-footballer to hench professional wrestler as he swapped the Bundesliga for the WWE and scoffed 1kg of meat a 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 duo of Sheamus and Cesaro.
Curtis Woodhouse: Boxing
Woodhouse became the youngest player to ever captain Sheffield United early in his career, before earning a £1m move to Birmingham in 2001. But as the midfielder later admitted: “Almost straight away as a professional, I started falling out of love with football.”
He retired from the beautiful game at just 26 years old and won his first boxing match against Dean Marcantonio, taking the tie on points after knocking his opponent down twice in the final round. Woodhouse had his licence suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control in 2006 and returned to football with Rushden and Diamonds, but boxing was always his first love.
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