Earning a living as a pro footballer used to be every boy’s dream and today, it is the dream of many girls, too. But here’s the thing. Getting talent spotted by Gillingham or Grimsby Town and offered a contract is amazing, and it will earn you a tidy salary – the average League 2 player in the UK earns about £2,500 per week. That’s more than three times the national average wage, but it’s pocket change compared to Premier League players.
The average pro career lasts for eight years, and for the vast majority of pros, it is just a precursor to a “regular” job, where pro footballer is simply an unusual talking point in the career history section of a CV. While famous names find it easier to continue a career in a related field, such as football management, coaching or media work, journeyman players scatter to the four winds, training in everything from business management to construction work to retail.
There are a few, however, who follow neither path. Here, we look at three players who found fame a second time around with a different sport after hanging up their boots.
Tim Wiese – wrestler
As a goalkeeper, former German international Tim Wiese managed to stay away from the theatricals that are so commonplace in today’s game. He evidently decided to make up for that after retiring in 2014. He spent two years bulking up and preparing for his WWE debut in Munich in 2016. He told the local press: “I was a big WWE fan when I was a boy.” Fulfilling two childhood dreams can’t be bad, and we fully expect him to start training for a third career as an astronaut some time soon!
Teddy Sheringham – poker player
A stalwart of the England team in the 1990s and a legend at both Manchester United and Tottenham, Sheringham had numerous opportunities to stay in football, and has had some high-profile coaching roles since retiring as a player. But he has also forged a successful career on the pro poker scene. There are more former sports stars on the poker tour than you might think – golf’s Sam Torrance, tennis legend Boris Becker and snooker stars Steve Davis and Jimmy White are just a few who have won big money in World Series of Poker events against the best in the game. Their experience in the mental side of competitive sport probably puts them in good stead – understanding when to bluff in poker and reading your competitors are vital parts of the game. Sheringham has accumulated poker winnings of more than $300,000 to date.
Curtis Woodhouse – boxer
You have to admire Curtis Woodhouse. After punishing his body for 15 years as a midfielder at eight clubs, including Sheffield Utd, Birmingham City and Peterborough Town, he decided to punish it some more in the boxing ring. He won his first 10 professional fights, despite having no amateur experience. He has since taken up a career in football management and last month was announced as manager of Marske Utd.