Today – and throughout the last decade for that matter – it’s inconceivable that any PL player would need to work a regular job when they’re done with the game. PL players are amongst the most well-paid athletes in the world, so provided they do some financial planning, they’ll have a nice little nest egg off of which they’ll be able to live comfortably when they hang up their boots. There’s no need to work a regular job and for a lot of these ex-pros and there’s no desire to either; it can be hard transitioning from the life of a pro athlete to working 9-5 and donning a suit and tie in an office job for example.
We’ve said a lot of these ex PL players would’ve had no desire to work a regular job. But back in the day, a lot of these players didn’t enjoy the riches that today’s stars come to expect. Some, therefore, had to find work when their playing days were over out of sheer necessity, whereas others did so because they wanted to pursue other interests and keep themselves busy.
Whatever their reasons may be, these are 15 ex PL pros who worked regular jobs when they retired.
15 Lee Bowyer
Lee Bowyer was once upon a time quite a well-known name in the PL. He spent his entire career in the English leagues – a career notable for his time with Leeds United, with whom he made 265 appearances. He then had a brief spell with West Ham, which coincided with him getting his one and only international cap for England.
Aside from football, Lee’s always loved fishing. During the summer breaks, he used to travel to Orconte, France, to partake in Carp fishing. He had a love affair with that lake, and when his career was winding to a close, he decided to buy the 12-acre property at Orconte. Lee now runs the lake full time and has named it after himself -- Etang de Bows. Fishing helps him unwind, something which he can now do full-time. Lee also rents out a couple of properties, besides his lake property, but may still get back into football. He’s considering using his expertise and knowledge of the game as a youth coach.
14 Ray Wilson
Ray Wilson’s famous for being a part of the England 1966 World Cup winning team. He played at left-back, making 409 appearances with English teams, and was definitely one of the most underrated players in the England set up. He actually gained most of his recognition once his playing days were over; the media launched a campaign to get his services to football recognized, and he subsequently received an MBE.
His profession after football also got a lot of people talking. He launched a business as an undertaker, and it grew into a very successful business too. He built the business in Huddersfield and spent more than 20 years of his life post football as an undertaker before deciding to put his feet up and take it easy, retiring in 1997.
13 Arjan de Zeeuw
Dutchman Arjan began his career in the Dutch amateur leagues before making the move to England and spending the majority of the remainder of his career playing in the PL. Arjan had spells in the PL with Barnsley, Wigan and Portsmouth, and was a solid centre-back, renowned for his professionalism and conduct on the pitch.
Arjan is also a very intelligent man and got an education before embarking on a career in professional football. Consequently, he turned pro quite late, at the age of 22, but got a degree in medical sciences under his belt. This came in handy when he retired in 2009, as he chose to pursue his passion – science. He began working as a forensic scientist with an investigative detection firm, which allowed him to put all those lab skills he learnt many years ago to good use.
12 John Chiedozie
Born in Nigeria, John Chiedozie moved to England as a teenager and began his career in English football as an apprentice. He quickly made it through to the first team with Leyton Orient and went on to have a very long and successful career in English football. He spent his entire career playing for English clubs and made a few international appearances too. A decade after he hung up his boots, his performances and contribution to football and Nigerian football were recognized by the President of Nigeria, who bestowed upon him the title of Officer of the Order of Niger.
But John got tired of twiddling his thumbs after retiring from football and so decided to set up a kiddies entertainment business. He runs the business in the New Forest area of Hampshire and is the go-to man if you want to give your kids a party to remember.
11 Ramon Vega
Former Swiss international and central defender Ramon Vega is another guy who got himself an education before embarking on a pro football career. He got a degree in banking and financing at the Zürich Business School before starting his career with Grasshopper Club Zürich. Seven years later, he made the move to the UK, where he played for Spurs in the PL.
Ramon had a relatively successful time of it during his football career, but became a superstar in the world of banking and finance when he retired from the game. He set up the Duet Group – an asset management and private equity company – and later formed a real estate company. He’s continued to rake in the cash, working out of an office in Central London, and has earned over £15 million since he began utilizing his financial knowledge and savviness.
10 Barry Horne
Barry Horne hung up his boots in the early 2000s after a long and successful career in English football. He was also renowned on the international scene with Wales as a ball-winner and his hardcore playing style. Barry then had a stint as a TV analyst and pundit – which he still does now and again – and did a bit of radio work, but preferred to put his degree to good use. Barry’s another clever footballer, as he has a first-class degree in chemistry from the University of Liverpool. He decided to become a chemistry teacher and teaches both chemistry and physics at The King's School, Chester. He was also director of football at the school, sharing his knowledge for both of his passions – science and football.
9 9. Simon Garner
Simon used to be a hero at Blackburn Rovers. He’s the club's all-time top goalscorer and netted for fun from 1978-1992. But Simon fell into the trap of thinking that he was set for life. Before he knew it, his career had passed him by; he was 36 and it was time to retire, but Simon had no clue what to do next. He spent a period behind bars, then got a job selling mortgages, then became a postman, but couldn't cut it as he had a tough time dealing with having to be at work so early.
A friend then came to his aid and offered him a painting and decorating job; Simon accepted, stuck to it, and has been earning his corn painting and decorating in Berkshire ever since.
8 Ken Monkou
Dutch centre-back Ken Monkou had spells in the top flight of English football with Chelsea and Southampton. He put together a string of impressive performances for Chelsea and was voted Player of the Year for Chelsea in his first season with The Blues. In 1992, he had just signed a five-year contract to keep him in South West London, but the offer made by Southampton was too good for any party to refuse, and he was soon on his way to The Saints. After helping them stay afloat in the PL by the skin of their teeth several times, Ken had a brief spell at Huddersfield Town before calling time on his playing career.
What did Ken do when he retired? He did the usual media work, but also returned to his home near Rotterdam, and became a pancake chef. He bought a Pannekoek House and became chief pancake flipper, while his family helped out too.
7 Julian Dicks
Julian Dicks was renowned during his playing days for his hardcore style in defence. He was a no nonsense kind of player – something which led to him receiving the nickname, The Terminator. A tough tackler with a poor disciplinary record, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Dick's life after football wouldn’t be all that different. But he left all that aggression on the pitch and became a sweetheart when he hung up his boots in 2002. He’s an animal lover, so decided to spend his time taking care of dogs; he set up professional kennels when he retired, giving people a safe place to keep their beloved pooches. He also ran the Shepherd and Dog Public House in Langham, and he’s been keeping busy doing a bit of coaching too.
6 Tomas Brolin
Swedish international Tomas Brolin had spells in the PL with Leeds and Crystal Palace in the 1990s, and had a decent time of it too, playing as a striker/attacking midfielder. Strangely, he closed out his footballing career in Sweden with Hudiksvalls FF, as a goalkeeper no less. In his prime, Brolin was one of the top footballers around, but today he’s making waves in the business world.
Immediately after retiring, Brolin set up an Italian-Swedish restaurant. He then dipped his hand into the real estate business and – again strangely – invested in a company that sold mouthpieces for vacuum cleaners. He’s also appeared in TV ads, and has had a lot of success as a poker player – an industry of which he’s been a part since 2006. Care to hazard a guess what Brolin will try his hand at next?
5 Gavin Peacock
Gavin Peacock was a notable name in English football during the '80s and '90s. He’ll mainly be remembered for his time in the PL with Newcastle and Chelsea, but he also had numerous stints with teams in the Football League. After retiring in 2001, Peacock remained in football as a pundit, appearing on TV shows and hosting radio podcasts.
Peacock has always been a religious man. When he retired from football, he began preaching at his local church and decided it was something he wanted to learn more about and get into full time, so he moved to Cambridge and began his theological studies. He then relocated to Canada where he completed a three-year master's course in divinity at Ambrose Seminary. Peacock’s aim was to become a minister; he’s currently working as an Elder and Pastor at Calvary Grace Church.
4 Philippe Albert
Philippe Albert was a world-renowned international in his heyday. He impressed at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the U.S. with Belgium, which led to plenty of interest from teams around the world that were eager to acquire his services. Albert chose to come to the PL with Newcastle and it turned out to be a good decision. He took no time to settle in and was an instant hit at St James' Park, but injuries eventually got the better of him and curtailed his career, forcing him to retire in 2000.
Since walking away from playing, he’s done the usual thing – media work as a pundit for Belgium TV – but is also involved in the fruit and veggie business. He worked at his friend’s business and is now in charge of the successful company, which brings fruit and vegetables to the masses -- a totally different line of work from football, but something he’s loving as he’s now got “a normal life.”
3 Shaun Goater
Striker Shaun Goater played for a number of prominent clubs during the course of his career. He came to the UK as a youngster and was thrust onto the big stage with none other than Man United. The goals then started coming for Shaun at Rotherham before Man City acquired his services. It was here where he became one of the best strikers around, as he went about amassing 103 goals in 212 appearances.
Shaun retired in 2010 and received a hero’s welcome in his native Bermuda for his services to football. But what’s Shaun been doing since he called time on his playing career? He has his fingers in many different pies. He’s had stints in management, has bought shares in football clubs, is involved in telecommunications, but today, most of his time is spent taking care of his road-laying company, which operates in Bermuda.
2 Stuart Ripley
Ripley spent his entire career playing in the English leagues and even earned a couple of England caps too. He became somewhat of a hero with Middlesbrough where he played on the wing, and with Blackburn Rovers, with whom he won the PL in 1995. He also played in the top flight of English football with Southampton before closing out his career in the Football League.
Stuart chose to pursue education after his playing days were over. He set up the Castleford Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic, and in the meantime was studying for an Honors Degree in Law and French. He graduated in 2007, and a few years later, became a fully-qualified solicitor, transitioning to sports law. Stuart now works in football as a solicitor and is a law lecturer too, advising players and clubs on how to conduct themselves properly and helping them out of hot water, should they need his services.
1 David Hillier
Hillier played in the English leagues as a midfielder for 15 years, his most notable spell being in the PL with Arsenal. He was with The Gunners for eight years, but eventually fell out of favor with the club after a string of misdemeanors and off-field incidents somewhat sullied his name. He won a ton of accolades with Arsenal, but his footballing career eventually fizzled out with Barnet when he was let go.
Hillier needed to work, as he realized he couldn’t live off his earnings from football forever. His wife heard a radio ad whereby the local services were looking to recruit firefighters. He decided to give it a go, failed, but tried, tried and tried again, and eventually got the news he was hoping for at the fourth interview. Today, Hillier’s a qualified firefighter, putting fires out in and around Bristol, but is still involved in football doing some commentating and media work.