10 Footballers Who Perfected Another Sport!
Gabriel Batistuta is most famous for his exploits with Fiorentina making the purple shirt famous alongside Portugal’s Rui Costa. Batistuta scored 207 goals in 332 games for La viola missing out on Kurt Hamrin all-time record of 208 by 1. After retirement Batistuta experienced severe pain in his legs with much of the cartilage damaged from years on the field at one point the striker asked a doctor to amputate his limbs and wet the bed because he couldn’t stand up. Unsurprisingly Batistuta has lost his passion for the game despite having earned his coaching badges instead he took up polo, training with Adolfo Cambiaso the world’s number one ranked player and true to form he netted a brace on his debut he now owns a team called La Gloria.
No matter what you think of his footballing ability Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an exceptional athlete blessed with pace and strength. The England international has made his name motoring down the wing but he almost ended up in another sport entirely, as a schoolboy the ox showed promise in football, cricket, rugby, and athletics. An all-rounder on the cricket pitch he played for his district and had a trial with Hampshire as a wicket-keeper while London Irish were interested in taking him pro as rugby player. However, with both his dad and uncle being professional footballers the Ox was only ever going to choose one sport and he committed to Southampton’s Academy going on to make his first-team debut at just 16 years old.
Currently, in his second spell in charge of the U.S. national team, Bruce Arena graduated from Ivy League University Cornell in 1973. Arena was an outstanding college athlete and was selected for national honors in both soccer and lacrosse, he later played for New York Cosmos but was released after a season then spending a year as professional lacrosse player during this time he coached school and college sides in both sports and somehow worked as a teacher, also earning a single international cap for the U.S. soccer team, once again Arena switched sport this time playing for the National Lacrosse squad at the 1974 World Championships which the USA won and he finished runner-up in the same tournament four years later. He eventually went to the University of Virginia to coach lacrosse before finally going back to soccer getting a job with MLS side DC United in 1996.
English forward Leon McKenzie scored 115 goals in 393 games winning promotion to the Premier League with Norwich City in 2005, however, injuries stalled his career and he dropped down the divisions. With personal life in disarray and money worries McKenzie could see no way out and tried to commit suicide at 31 years old, his father saved his life and kept Mckenzie by his side at the boxing gym he ran. Eventually encouraging his son to get in the ring Clinton had fought Sugar Ray Leonard at the 1976 Olympics and he trained Leon himself who fought for the first time in 2013. Leon won eight and drew one of his first nine fights picking up an international master’s belt before losing at last in November 2016.
A member of the Turkish side which reached the 2002 World Cup semi-final, Mansiz was a striker who won the super league with the Besiktas in 2003. The year before he netted 21 League goals to finish turkey’s top scorer but his career was slowed by fitness issues and eventually ended by a car crash which damaged his knee, but Mansiz who once destroyed Roberto Carlos with a rainbow flick decided to put up fancy footwork to good use and learn to ice skate. At the age of 33 for a Turkish TV show, Mansiz girlfriend is a professional in the sport and the two partnered up to win the competition. The former forward didn’t stop there attempting to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics but sadly he missed out.
A Champions League, Premier League, Ligue 1, Euro 2000 and World Cup winner Fabien Barthez did it all. The egg-headed stopper kept 10 clean sheets at the World Cup a record held jointly with Peter Shilton and he was made a French knight in 1998 for his role in France’s triumph in the competition. A longtime fan of motorsport Barthez began competing in 2008 joining the French GT Championship which he won in 2013 in a Ferrari, in 2014 he competed in the Le Mans 24-hour event finishing 29th of 55 and in 2016 lift up to 12 he still has some way to go to match his achievements in football but he managed to do it all.
Tim Wiese played as a goalkeeper in his native Germany winning the German Cup with Werder Bremen alongside Mesut Ozil, Claudio Pizarro, and Torsten Frings. He made six appearances for the national team and late in his career turned down the number two spot at Real Madrid saying that he knew his performances were in decline, however, Wiese enormous 6 foot 4 inches, 255 pounds made him a perfect fit for professional wrestling. The German meathead spent two years at the WWE Performance Centre before making his debut in Germany in November 2016, now nicknamed the Machine, Wiese made a winning start showing off his signature move body splash.
The only goalkeeper ever to win the Ballon d’Or Lev Yashin appeared at three World Cups, won the 1960 European Championships and kept more than 270 clean sheets a one-club man Yashin picked up five league titles with Dynamo Moscow and according to FIFA statistics saved more than a 150 penalties in his career an all-time record. Capped 78 times by the Soviet Union Yashin earned the nickname the black spider for his dark clothing and was instrumental in modernizing his position, organizing the defense, and racing off his line like today’s sweeper keepers. But while a trainee at Dynamo, Yashin played goalie for the club’s ice hockey side, as a hockey player Yashin won the USSR Cup in 1953 and almost joined up with the national team but the departure of the first choice keeper from dynamos football squad saw him promoted to first-choice stopper the rest is history.
One of France’s greatest ever defenders Lizarazu was a cog in the fearsome machine of 1998, winning the World Cup and Euro 2000 the industrious left-back won five Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich and the Champions League also featuring for Bordeaux, Marseille, and Athletic Club de Bilbao after he retired Lizarazu tried a variety of sports but finally found his calling in Brazilian Jujitsu, a quick learner he became European champion once again in 2009 but this time as a lightweight fighter at blue belt level. He earned his black belt in 2016 at 46 years old while still working as a pundit and a journalist for the French media.
A small and speedy striker Austrian Toni Fritsch spent eight years with Rapid Vienna playing 123 games but scoring just 15 goals, two goals in nine caps for his country was a little bit better, but no one expected Fritsch to have a great sporting legacy when he finally left the club in 1971. The Dallas Cowboys were on a European tour looking for a new kicker and Fritsch was the first player they scouted the forward had never touched an American football or even seen a game but impressed, coach Tom Landry signed a contract as a free agent. Fritsch ended up spending 12 seasons in the NFL four of them with the Cowboys where he won the Super Bowl in Dallas making him the only Austrian ever to get a ring and was selected for the league’s all-star game in 1980 while at the Houston Oilers. He even pulled off a rabona the first man to do so in the NFL he retired from his second career in 1985 and died in 2005.