The life of a footballer is a short one. They spend every waking moment from their childhood right the way through to their adult years learning, training and playing the beautiful game, only for it to come to a sudden end, usually at sometime around their mid thirties.
For many, the vast riches that they have amassed throughout their professional career is enough to see them through the rest of their life with ease - a few wise investments, careful money management, the odd TV appearance and you’re set. However, for others it isn’t so easy.
When you’re accustomed to earning £50,000, £100,000, or in some cases £250,000 every week since you were 18 years old, adapting to a life without an astonishingly high income can be tough. Most will continue pursuing a career within the game, through coaching, management or punditry. However, others choose to embark on the careers that they ultimately would have pursued had they not made it in the world of football.
Some opt for the mundane, while others go for the unbelievable - here are 9 players that took strange career paths following their retirement from professional football:
Gavin Peacock followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a professional footballer, playing for the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle United and Chelsea within England’s top two divisions. After 17 gruelling years as a player, Peacock eventually hung up his boots in 2001 after a brief loan spell with Charlton Athletic in the Premier League, retiring with more than 100 goals to his name in over 500 appearances.
Like many of his fellow professionals, Peacock opted to continue on in the sport, taking up a role as a pundit for the BBC. Despite appearing on shows such as Football Focus, Score and Match of the Day, as well as hosting his own podcast show on the official Chelsea website, Peacock decided to retire from the sport for a second time after travelling to Euro 2008 as a member of the BBC team.
After attending a local church during the early stages of his career, Peacock had become a devout Christian and developed a keen interest in religion. His new life path would take him to Canada, where he enrolled on a masters course in Divinity, before taking up the role of Pastor at a church in Calgary, Alberta.
Arjan de Zeeuw
While Arjen de Zeeuw is unlikely to go down in football history, he certainly made big contributions at Barnsley, where he helped the club to achieve promotion to the Premier League in 1997, Wigan, where he won the club’s Player of the Year award on two consecutive occasions, and Portsmouth, who he went on to captain in the top flight.
However, while Barnsley, Wigan and Portsmouth are thankful for the success that the 6 foot 1 centre-back helped the clubs to achieve, De Zeeuw wasn’t content with the help that he had provided throughout his time in football.
Instead, following his retirement in 2009 following a spell with Dutch amateur side ADO ‘20, De Zeeuw decided to stay put in his homeland, taking up a position as an investigative detective.
“It was never my intention to put my feet up after playing - I like to use my brain a little bit,” De Zeeuw admitted. “I’m what is known as a detective in training. I’m involved in cases now and I should be fully qualified by the end of the summer.”
Despite embarking on his new life as a forensic analysis, De Zeeuw wouldn’t be out of the game for long - seven years after his retirement, the Dutchman returned to football, taking up a coaching role with his former club Wigan in 2016.
Georgian defender Kakha Kaladze is best remembered for his nine year spell with Serie A heavyweights AC Milan. Despite initially having to compete with the likes of legendary defenders Jaap Stam and Cafu, Kaladze would go on to make close to 200 appearances for the Italian club.
Following a two year spell with Genoa, Georgia’s all-time most expensive footballer decided to call time on his football career, having won five Georgian Leagues, one Serie A, one Coppa Italia and two Champions League trophies throughout his 19 year spell in the sport.
Kaladze started building a business empire while he was still playing football, and upon retiring he found himself with a successful investment company, a bar, a restaurant and a construction company. However, not content with taking a backseat, Kaladze decided to give politics a try.
While there was some concern that his business interests would cause problems, his celebrity status in Georgia ultimately did him wonders. He quickly rose through the political ranks, initially taking up a place in Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream Democratic Party in February 2012. By October that year, Kaladze had risen to become a member of Parliament, taking up the role of Minister of Energy and Deputy Prime Minister.
There have been plenty of notable players to guard the sticks at Anfield - Bruce Grobbelaar, Pepe Reina and Ray Clemence, to name a few - and Jerzy Dudek is among them.
The Polish international featured more than 100 times for Liverpool and also had spells in the Netherlands and Spain, which made him one of football’s most well known goalkeepers by the time he hung up his boots in 2011, following a four year stint at Real Madrid.
Despite ending his football career with Eredivisie and La Liga titles, a Champions League winners medal and two Dutch Goalkeeper of the Year awards to his name, Dudek clearly felt that his trophy cabinet was still lacking.
Instead of putting his feet up, Dudek began pursuing a career as a racing car driver, entering his first season in the adrenaline fuelled sport back in 2014. Surprisingly, despite his lack of experience, the former goalkeeper held his own in the 2014 Volkswagen Castrol Cup, finishing up in 18th place out of 37 drivers.
While Klas Ingesson is a name that is unlikely to ring too many bells, the Swedish international is one of football’s true journeymen, having embarked on a 15 year career that saw him play in Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Italy and France for no less than eight clubs.
English fans will remember him for his short stint with Sheffield Wednesday during the mid-1990s, but in Sweden he is best remembered for his role in the country’s 1994 World Cup exploits, when they went against the odds to finish third in the prestigious tournament.
However, despite his footballing exploits, Ingesson had always had another dream. After retiring from football, the midfield maestro took his life in a completely different direction, as he set about becoming a lumberjack - a job which, according to Ingesson was as ‘manly’ as it gets and worked wonders for keeping him in shape.
By 2013, 12 years after calling time on his playing career, Ingesson was ready to put his wood cutting career to one side in order to return to the beautiful game. The veteran Swede would opt for management, as he took control of Allsvenskan side IF Elfsborg. However, his return would be cut short, as he sadly passed away a year after his return.
While Dion Dublin chose to stay in the limelight, the job that he found himself in following his retirement is far from what would have been expected from the English defender when he hung up his boots in 2008.
Dublin enjoyed a 20 year spell in football that saw him play for the likes of Manchester United, Leicester City and Celtic. However, his best spells came with the likes of Cambridge United, Coventry City, Aston Villa and Norwich City.
Before he had hung up his boots, Dublin had started to consider his future. As an amateur musician, the ageing centre-back thought that he could fix himself a decent retirement fund by inventing the next best instrument - the dube, which was effectively a fancy cajón box. Of course, Dion’s Dube didn’t quite work out, and upon retiring he found himself working for Sky Sports in a punditry role.
Despite enjoying success as a pundit, appearing on Super Sunday and co-commentating on a number of Champions League clashes alongside famed commentator Martin Tyler, Dublin wasn’t ready to settle for the odd Sky Sports appearance. Instead, in 2015, his career took an unusual turn, as he was unveiled as the co-host of BBC’s Homes Under the Hammer.
Ray Wilson found his way into professional football by sheer chance. When he was snapped up by Huddersfield Town at the age of 18, he had already begun an apprenticeship to train as a railwayman. However, a game of amateur football would see him spend the next 19 years of his life playing for the likes of Huddersfield, Everton and Oldham Athletic.
His career highlight came with England at the 1966 World Cup. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why, but Wilson’s impact in that historic final was a weak header that gifted West Germany the opening goal. Although, England recovered to claim the cup and Wilson was crowned a world champion alongside the likes of Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst.
While you can expect a modern day world champion to be earning upwards of £100,000-a-week, the average wage of a player in England’s top flight throughout the 1960s was just £20-a-week, meaning that players rarely left the game as 30-somethings with enough of a fortune to live off of for the rest of their life.
While many, like today, chose to stay in the game, Wilson’s low profile made it difficult for him. Instead, he opted for something unusually different, as he returned to Huddersfield and opened his own undertaker’s business. He would continue building his funeral empire until 1997, when he eventually retired for a second time.
Jose Manuel Pinto
To be honest, Jose Manuel Pinto wouldn’t look out of place alongside the likes of Sean Paul and Rihanna, but it is still odd to see a former footballer carving out a successful career as a hip-hop musician.
The Spaniard only called time on his career back in 2014, having spent two decades plying his trade as a goalkeeper in Serie A, having turned out for the likes of Real Betis, Celta and Barcelona. As a part of Pep Guardiola’s historic tika-taka side, Pinto hung up his boots with four La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and numerous other cup trophies to his name, despite making just 31 appearances for the clubs throughout his four year spell.
However, this time on the sidelines was seemingly good for Pinto, who had set up his own record label, Wahin Makinaciones, back in 2000, as it gave him time to put his post-retirement plans in place. Since retiring, Pinto has been trying to transform himself from shot-stopper to chart-topper, releasing his own hip-hop music under the name ‘Wahin’.
They say that goalkeepers are crazy and Tim Wiese has proved it once and for all. After 15 years playing football across Germany for the likes of Fortuna Koln, FC Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Hoffenhein, the German international decided to hang up his boots, aged just 32.
While most footballers decide to retire because they feel that they can no longer cope with the physical demands of the game, Wiese simply felt that football had nothing left to offer him. Upon retiring, Wiese started to pack on the pounds, reaching a weight of 132 kilograms at his heaviest. However, he wasn’t getting fat - he was in the gym, training to become a professional wrestler, packing on more than 40 kg of muscle since calling time on his football career.
“I don’t really see wrestling as an escape, it’s an alternative to becoming fat and sitting on the couch,” Wiese stated.
Wiese transformation was almost unbelievable and within two years Wiese had been offered a training contract at the WWE Performance Center, with the famed wrestling company looking to fast track him into the big time.