It’s a fine line between failure and success in all walks of life (except for funambulists). The football world is no different. Some players make it; others don’t and luck plays a huge part, of course. But there are countless tales of wonderfully gifted players who never made the grade and drifted out of the game. They’re rarely heard of in the mainstream media after their brush with stardom.
As they realise the professional football isn’t for them, the challenge is for them then to find a career that will give them a rewarding and productive life. Postmen, parliamentarians or pick-axe handle makers, a job’s is a job. But more intriguing is the unusual roles that stars who DID enjoy illustrious playing days go on to do fulfil when they hang up their boots.
Some careers paths are bizarre, some are double-bizarre whiles others are just plain treble-bizarre bordering on insane. None, however, have fallen into the non-existent quadruple-bizarre category — that’s just mental.
Take former Brazil ace Rivaldo (real name Todd Carty), who was a wonderful player for the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan. Once he packed in the game in 2015 he moved to Torquay where he opened a fish and chip shop; Rilvaldo’s on the English Riviera. To this day he can be found frying battered sausages and scooping up chips to serve to tourists along the prom. Not glamorous but it suits him. He told us:
“It’s rather tiresome that I’m known as the ‘codfather’. It’s a living, what can I tell you?”
Another example is former Manchester United ace Eric Cantona does the graveyard shift at an Esso garage in Stockport and very much enjoys the work. When we caught up with the French star, who still does the odd TV ad and a bit of punditry, he said:
“I think you’ve got le wrong homme.” (I’m not paying you for this horse cack – Ed.)
Other aces twice removed from the Beautiful Game include ex-Southampton and Sunderland grafter Reuben Agboola, who now works as a lion tamer in Poland:
“The money’s good and you get Sundays off”;
one-time Liverpool getter-of-goals Ian Rush is the UK ambassador to Senegal:
“Diplomacy has always been my strong suit, old bean”;
and ex-West Ham United strike-merchant Clyde Best is a security guard in Las Vegas:
“You get to shoot people, man.”
“These players all have a common denominator and that is that they have shunned the glittering life of a superstar to pursue a more mundane existence,”
explains Dr Malcolm Talcolm, from Exeter University’s anthropology department.
“I’ve spoken to dozens of former players who have the most ordinary jobs and others who have treble-bizarre vocations, but the common aspect is that none of them play football any longer.”
*Dr Malcolm Talcolm’s book, Clay-pigeons I Have Known, is published by Random House, all good book shops, £76.43.