Football thespians! Mourinho as Widow Twanky throws spotlight on the game’s class acts…

Todays Tales

Jose Mourinho is an unlikely pantomime dame, of that most of us can agree. But, in a move that will startle some, shock others and leave many indifferent, the Manchester United manager has agreed to play the part of Widow Twanky in Aladdin at the Gracie Fields Theatre in Rochdale.  You will not find a bet on MansionBet with for this performance but hey there’s a shed load of other attractive offers available.

It’s all to help boost funds of the Rochdale Boxing Club and will see Mourinho, former manager of Chelsea, Real Madrid and who took a secret job as boss of Accrington Stanley, take to the stage when United fixtures allow over the busy Christmas period.

A prepared statement by the Old Trafford giants acknowledges the kind-hearted gesture by the coach which reads:

“Jose is playing Widow Twanky and as a club we support his desire to dress as a woman and parade around a stage.”

Mourinho’s dalliance with the theatre got this correspondent thinking about other football stars who have trodden the boards over the years…and a little digging provides evidence enough that it has been a very fertile ground for many, especially those who have finished their careers and are looking to feel the thrill of entertaining the crowds once more.

Take Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne for example. It’s well documented that the former Newcastle and Glasgow Rangers player struggled with being out of the spotlight once the curtain had come down on his illustrious playing career. To help him through various different stages of coping with emotional downturns in his private life, Gazza auditioned for, and won parts in, West Ends shows such as The Mouse Trap, Hamilton and Hair, and even enjoyed a six-week run on Broadway in New York in Sam Allardyce: The Musical.

A reviewer at the Big Apple Advertiser wrote of that particular role:

“Sublime is the single one word that can be ascribed to PG’s faultless role as Sammy Lee; build a statue, name a bridge after him, exult him on high for PG is a king of his stage craft!”

Some review, eh?

Another household name to take up performance art is Sol Campbell. Ex-England defender Campbell. You’ll remember that Campbell hilariously left Tottenham while the club skipper to join giants Arsenal on a free transfer — and then went on to win medals galore.

Well, after the silverware came the plaudits for his acting. Small parts in Annie Get Your Gunners (an am-dram musical put on by Arsenal nut Frank Stubbs) and Macbeth went largely unnoticed before Campbell hit the headlines by landing the lead role in Half A Sixpence at the Chichester Festival Theatre. He hasn’t looked back.

Of course, not all former football personalities who tried to make the leap into the acting game did so with such success. Joey Barton flopped in The Producers as Max Bialystock; Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Jamie Carragher were laughed off stage during the opening night of We’re Not Evertonians, Honest!, and ex-West Ham ace Clyde Best fled in tears when the audience jeered his one-man show, The Songs of the Clyde.

Right, enough of this bluster — I’m off to see Niall Quinn play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Chow…