5 world class football players who have played other sports (2024)

It is no surprise that there have been multi-sports athletes all over the world. From the likes of Usain Bolt to Conor Mcgregor, professional athletes have made sure that they discover what every sport has to offer. In the world of football, however, things tend to become difficult even after retirement, as injuries and physical limitations do have an impact.

However, some of these world class athletes, who have actually attempted other sports, come with a huge surprise. Not many people expected them to actually play a different sport, as this particular game happens to be an extremely demanding prowess.

But there are some of these talents who have made sure that they too discover the aspects of what other sports feel like. Most of us may think that it would simply be a non-professional hobby, but these 5 athletes have actually attempted the other sports professionally.

#5 Jerzy Dudek - Motor racing

5 world class football players who have played other sports (1)

One of the 'core' players in Liverpool's 2005 Champions League victory, Dudek made sure that none of the AC Milan players found a way past him into the goal. His unbelievable reflexes and leadership qualities earned him a lot of attraction from Real Madrid, for whom he was signed immediately after the finals of 2005. Despite not being in Rafa Benitez's plans, Dudek was a fan favourite, and his move was considered as being an extremely controversial prospect.

A fact that isn't known by many is that the former Liverpool goalkeeper actually wanted to pursue a career in motor racing before football. However, after his retirement in 2013, Dudek is exactly doing what he always wanted, competing in endurance races, where he literally drives cars for 24 hours straight.

“Motor racing was my passion before football,” he told LFCTV last year. “I raced go-karts but of course that stopped when I became a professional footballer. When I quit football I also missed the adrenaline you got from playing."

#4 Ivan Perisic - volleyball

5 world class football players who have played other sports (2)

One of the most underrated footballers ever to walk on the football pitch, Perisic was one of the most important players in the 2018 FIFA World Cup for Croatia. A quick, agile and extremely intelligent attacker, his role at Inter Milan has made him one of the most reliable footballers. Perisic is known mainly for his dribbling and his ability to switch between different attacking positions, as he can play as a winger, a number 10 or a striker.

Most of his fans won't be aware of the fact that in the summer of 2017, Perisic's future wasn't so sure at San Siro, and to relieve him off this stress of speculations, he took part in a professional beach volleyball competition, making him yet another multi-sport athlete.

However, what is truly surprising is that the 30-year-old was actually representing his nation in this particular tournament.

“This was always my dream, I have been playing beach volleyball since I was 10,” he said. “I’m very passionate about this game and every summer I have been practicing with my friend,” Perisic said after representing Croatia at the Porec Major event.

#3 Joe Hart - Cricket

5 world class football players who have played other sports (3)

Hart is easily one of those goalkeepers who has given as a lot to remember. With Manchester City, he became one of their most important players ever since their 2011 Premier League victory. A tall and a quick goalkeeper, it was surprising indeed that he was not picked up for England's World Cup squad. He currently plays for Burnley FC.

However, if you grow up in England, you always have to know a sport other than football. Cricket is yet another sport given to us by the Brits, and Joe Hart surely proves that he plays it too. While England was facing Sweden in the World Cup quarter-finals, Hart, back in his home country, took to the cricket field, playing for his hometown Shrewsbury, in a professional domestic match scoring six runs and getting a catch off a shot.

Well, Hart proves to us all that he is a true Englishmen, given his choice of sports!

#2 Rio Ferdinand - Professional Boxer

5 world class football players who have played other sports (4)

One of the most decorated English footballers of all time, Ferdinand was a charismatic footballer, who our generation of football fans can never forget. A centre-back, who was known for his hard-hitting tackles and his leadership qualities, Ferdinand gave us more memories than we can cherish.

Most footballers would give up after retiring and not think of doing anything that is related to sports. But Ferdinand surely had other plans, as in September 2017, he announced that he has planned to become a professional boxer. Yes, Ferdinand would go pro.

"The chance to prove myself in a new sport was a real draw" - Ferdinand on starting a career in boxing.

However, after a rejected license application, Ferdinand ended his dream to become a pro boxer. He did, however, spar with some of the local athletes, who have had a professional career in this particular sport.

#1 Paolo Maldini - Tennis

5 world class football players who have played other sports (5)

One of the greatest football players of his position and his generation, Maldini belonged to the golden era of AC Milan football players, where he was branded as 'The Captain', for his ultimate leadership qualities both on and off the pitch. A feared defender, he set the bar high enough for other defenders to not easily reach.

Post-retirement, Maldini works with AC Milan as their sporting strategy and development director, and that is pretty obvious for a 50-year-old.

However, what surprised us the most, is the fact that Maldini qualified himself for a tennis tournament - The Aspira Tennis Cup, which was held in Milan, Italy. Albeit, he wasn't alone, as he participated in a doubles contest with another athlete. However, the duo was beaten in an unbelievable manner with a score of 6-1, 6-1 in 42 minutes.

Post that, Maldini was never seen playing tennis, as he now works with AC Milan.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee


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As an enthusiast and expert in sports, particularly in multi-disciplinary athletes, I've closely followed the careers of various athletes who've ventured into diverse sports domains. My expertise spans various sports, including football, motorsports, volleyball, cricket, boxing, and tennis. I've delved into the stories and careers of athletes who've transitioned from one sport to another, showcasing their multi-sport talents and abilities.

Let's break down the information from the article:

  1. Jerzy Dudek - Motor racing: Former Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek harbored a passion for motor racing before his football career. Upon retirement, he fulfilled his dream by competing in endurance races, demonstrating his skills and passion for driving cars for prolonged periods.

  2. Ivan Perisic - Volleyball: While known for his football skills as a versatile attacker, Perisic surprised many by participating in a professional beach volleyball competition. He represented Croatia in the tournament, revealing his long-standing passion for the sport.

  3. Joe Hart - Cricket: Renowned as a goalkeeper, particularly for Manchester City, Joe Hart showcased his cricket skills by playing for his hometown's team in a professional domestic match. This move demonstrated his sporting versatility and love for another quintessentially English sport.

  4. Rio Ferdinand - Professional Boxing: After retiring from football, Rio Ferdinand decided to venture into professional boxing. Despite encountering challenges with his license application, he engaged in sparring sessions, highlighting his determination to explore a new sporting avenue.

  5. Paolo Maldini - Tennis: The legendary AC Milan defender surprised many by participating in a tennis tournament, The Aspira Tennis Cup, partnering with another athlete for a doubles contest. Though they were defeated convincingly, Maldini's foray into professional tennis exhibited his interest and willingness to try new sports.

These instances emphasize the diverse interests and talents of athletes beyond their primary sports, showcasing their passion, determination, and commitment to exploring different sporting arenas even after successful careers in football. Each athlete's journey sheds light on the broader spectrum of skills and abilities they possess, beyond their well-known expertise in football.

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