For some players, retiring from football is a genuinely hard act to do. That feeling of being wanted not to mention the adulation by the fans and a club is difficult to leave. There is of course the dressing room camaraderie and team spirit that most players miss when they decide to hang up their cleats. But there are those players who decide that football is simply not for them. After years of plying their trade through cold stormy nights and intense training sessions, some decide to give up the game altogether.
Going cold turkey may not be the ideal choice for some but for others it has proven to be an excellent solution. Take for example former Germany keeper Tim Wiese who has played on the same side as the likes of Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil. The ex-Hoffenheim number 1 did not have his contract renewed and has taken an altogether different direction as a WWE superstar. After less than 12 months training to be a wrestler, Wiese stepped into the ring in his native country at a WWE Live in Frankfurt last year.
Besides Wiese, there have also been a host of other players who completely changed their careers. This includes former England international Ray Wilson. He was the oldest individual in the England squad that won the World Cup in 1966. Wilson was considered to be one of the finest full backs who ever played for England and featured in all of the Three Lions matches during their successful campaign. Wilson went on to establish a successful company in the undertaking business in the north of England. After retiring for good in 1997, he sold his 1966 World Cup winners medal for an excess of $120,000.
But which other footballers decided not to remain in the game and forge an alternative career path?
10 10. Andriy Shevchenko
Coming from the continent can be a tricky task at times, none more so than ex Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko. A whirlwind of a player, the Ukraine international spent his most impressive years in the red and black of AC Milan. While playing at the San Siro, Shevchenko knocked in 127 goals in a little over 200 appearances. However his transition to England was not as smooth when he signed for the Blues. He was brought in for around $60 million and failed to live up the hype.
9 9. Bixente Lizarazu
Considered to be one of the best left backs of the last two decades, former French international Bixente Lizarazu won the lot as a player. The ex-Bayern Munich defender was part of the successful French team of the 1990s. He went on to win both the FIFA 1998 World Cup as well as the European Championship playing alongside such greats as Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane. Yet, Lizarazu not only had ability for the game of football.
8 8. Eric Cantona
7 7. Thomas Gravesen
As a player, Thomas Gravesen was a real hard man who got stuck in where necessary. The former Everton midfielder has not fallen on tough times which many players do after retirement. Gravensen’s playing career also took him to the dizzying heights of the Bernabeu where he played in the white of Real Madrid.
6 6. Gabriel Batistuta
5 5. Hakan Sukur
4 4. Stuart Tomlinson
3 3. David Ginola
Charismatic Frenchman David Ginola had a glittering career in the English Premier League. Having swapped the sunny Cote d’Azur for North East England, Ginola put pen to paper on a deal with Newcastle United. While on Tyneside, Ginola played with the likes of Colombian player Faustino Asprilla and former England centre forward Les Ferdinand.
2 2. Robbie Fowler
Ex-Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler is considered to be one of the best natural finishers the game has seen of recent times. The Merseysider spent the bulk of his career playing for his hometown club of Liverpool. Whilst at Anfield, Fowler made a name for himself thanks to his effortless finishing and goal poaching abilities. He later had spells with Leeds United as well as Cardiff City.
1 1. Fabien Barthez
World Cup and European Championship winner Fabien Barthez had an inconsistent career between the goalposts. Some of the most infamous images captured of the bald headed no.1 featured in the World Cup. At the time, French captain Laurent Blanc would kiss his forehead before every game for luck. It certainly seemed to pay off as Les Bleus were top of the international and global tree after their 1998 and 2000 trophy wins. Barthez enjoyed playing careers at both Marseille and for Manchester United but after retiring, he has enjoyed a more unusual career.
The former French goalkeeper has taken up the steering wheel as a motor racing driver and has achieved plenty to boot. Now into his 40s, Barthez in recent years has officially been crowned the official champion of France’s GT motorsport series. He beat off stiff competition to achieve the prize including Sebastien Loeb who has won this particular event nine times previously. Since retiring back in 2007, Barthez has never looked back and is now a dab hand behind the wheel.
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