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 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.
However, this has not stopped Shevchenko from going on to bigger and brighter things. This is largely in part down to having a go at being a politician. Since retiring from the game, Andriy Shevchenko has attempted to make a name for himself back in his homeland. Highly respected in Ukraine, he has now dabbled in politics and actually stood in the Parliamentary election which took place back in 2012. The so called Forward! Party did not have much to celebrate though as Shevchenko's party only managed to secure less than 2% of the overall votes.
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.
After he hung up his cleats in 2006, the left back did a complete U-turn and ended up becoming a Brazilian Jujitsu fighter. His natural skill not to mention flexibility ensured he was to be a success on the mat too. After less than two years of taking up Jujitsu, Lizarazu achieved a European Champion title in the senior lightweight category. His blue belt title was achieved in the very first competition that he signed up for.
8 Eric Cantona
Dubbed The King or “Le Roi”, there is no denying the impact that Eric Cantona had on English football. The enfant terrible was certainly a controversial figure during his playing days but nonetheless one of the greats of the game. After his $2.5 million move from Leeds United, he led Manchester United to a number of different titles and played alongside the brightest young players. This included the likes of Paul Scholes as well as Ryan Giggs and David Beckham who all came through the ranks at Old Trafford. However, after shocking the football world when he announced his retirement, Cantona has now achieved silver screen status. His burgeoning career as an actor has seen the Gallic talisman appear in several films such as Switch and Elizabeth.
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.
In spite of the fact that his kit has been well put away, Gravesen has made a career out of being a professional poker player. Along the way, he has amassed an incredible fortune of around $100 million. In addition to this, the Danish international has a wide variety of businesses which he has invested in. Currently, Gravesen resides in sunnier climbs in Las Vegas and has also bagged himself a Czech model as his girlfriend.
6 Gabriel Batistuta
There have been many strikers through the years but Gabriel Batistuta was definitely among the best. The former Argentine international had an impressive career which spanned 17 years. On the international front, Batistuta netted on 56 occasions in less than 80 games and scored more than 200 goals for Fiorentina. After retiring from the sport back in 2005, Batistuta has now taken an altogether different direction. For the last decade, he has been focusing his attention on creating his own construction business back in his native homeland of Argentina.
5 Hakan Sukur
Responsible for scoring one of the fastest goals in World Cup history, Hakan Sukur was well respected in his home country for his scoring ability. The former Turkish international had a rich vein of scoring while playing for Galatasaray and won an impressive 14 trophies. He scored 51 goals in total for the Turkish national team and received plenty of plaudits from the fans. However, Sukur took a completely different turn and in 2011 he became an MP in Istanbul. Sukur went on to represent the Justice and Development Party for a short term before resigning at the end of 2013.
4 Stuart Tomlinson
This is certainly a footballing tale with a twist. Playing in the lower leagues for Burton Albion and Port Vale, Stuart Tomlinson was an imposing between the goals for his respective clubs. He made more than 80 appearances for Port Vale, while he made 25 appearances for Burton Albion respectively. Thanks to a knee ligament injury, Tomlinson had no choice but to hang up his cleats and wave goodbye to the dressing room. The former body builder has now remerged as a fully-fledged WWE wrestler who has just become a member of the official roster. Wrestling under the name of Hugo Knox, Tomlinson will soon be replacing goal kicks for drop kicks as he enters the ring.
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.
His impressive wing play and silky skills ensured a move down to south to Tottenham Hotspur. Ginola ignited the crowd with his sumptuous runs and creative play which is especially remembered for his individual goal against Barnsley. Since retiring from the game, Ginola has dabbled in several things and has even created his own winery. Ginola invested in an exclusive vineyard in the South of France near Provence and has won several awards for his unique Coste Brulade rosé wine.
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.
He still remains in the top 10 highest Premier League goal scorers of all time and was capped by England on 26 separate occasions. Yet this was not enough for Fowler and when he finally decided to hang the shirt on the hook, he invested his millions in an extensive portfolio. Bricks and mortar was the route that this Anfield legend went which has paid high dividends. He is one of the richest Britons when it comes to property investment companies and is believed to own in the region of 80 homes. His net wealth is estimated to be worth in the region of a staggering $45 million.
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.