Many of the most famous sportspeople of all time made their fame in football, and indeed most of them continue to live on in the public eye as sports pundits or otherwise public figures. But a lot of them we can equally lose track of after the end of their playing career. Today, we’re going to look at some of the greatest names in football history, and where they are today.
Let’s get started.
Few would disagree Cantona is one of the best players to ever grace the game. He enjoyed a stellar career across the Premier League, eventually spending his final five years on the job with Manchester United. He left the pitch as a player in 1997, still at his prime at age 30. With him on the squad in his first season at United, they won the league for the first time in almost 30 years.
So, what was next for him after he hung up his boots? Well, he had a reasonably successful acting career after the end of his playing, starring in films such as Elizabeth (1998) and French Film (2009).
But he didn’t leave the sport behind entirely. He went on to manage the French team in beach football. In 2011, he then went on to undertake the role of director of soccer with the New York Cosmos. Catona also worked with various football bookmakers promoting their services alongside his well recognized face.
Today, he lives in France with his family.
Known as Duncan Disorderly to fans and teammates alike, few could forget quintessential hard man Duncan Ferguson. He was a cult hero during his time at Everton, having scored in his debut game with the team against their bitter rivals, Liverpool. His career was hampered here and there by injuries and disciplinary actions, but the fans always loved him.
After his final game and final goal in 2006, he retired and moved to Mallorca with his family—despite multiple requests from other clubs to join their squad. After five years in the sun, he got back in touch with David Moyes, his former manager, looking for work with the academy students at Everton.
He has been coaching the next generation ever since and is set to manage the club one day.
Before he had even completed a full season with Chelsea in 1996, FWA voted him Player of the Year, which had never come to a Chelsea player before then. His incredible skill and huge personality quickly made him a fan favourite and was eventually voted as Chelsea’s all-time greatest player in 2003. He retired from the club in the same year, spent five years playing for Cagliari, before beginning a coaching career in 2008.
He began coaching West Ham, and eventually moved to Watford in 2012 where has been ever since. He has raised the teams he coaches to new heights, and most players agree they hope Zola continues to pass on his wisdom and skill for many years to come.
What would a list of former beloved football stars be without Vinnie Jones? Even for those who don’t follow football, they’re likely to have a good idea of who Vinnie Jones is. Another classic hard man, he was universally known if not universally loved—but nonetheless he became one of the most iconic players of the 1990s, playing close to 400 games up to 1998. After retiring in ’98, he had no trouble landing film roles due to his hard image. He was cast in many films over the years including Snatch (2000) and Mean Machine (2001).
Today, he lives in Los Angeles, and also has a cottage in Sussex where he spends time with his family.
At 17 years with Everton, Neville Southall is one of the most loyal goalkeepers in the club’s history. He helped them to many titles and victories over the years, accumulating 578 performances in his time with the club. He would finally retire in 2002, ending his career with Dagenham and Redbridge. He took charge of a variety of clubs over the following years—Dover Athletic, Hastings and Margate.
In his own teenage years he was a binman and hod carrier, and today he teaches with the Kent County Council for excluded teenagers, hoping to aid them in their lives through the sport. So, even out of the game, he continues to do great work for the community.
There are many directions your life can take at the end of your professional football career, then. Many of the greats stay within the football sphere and become as much a staple in the post-game discussions as they were on the field. At the same time, many pursue entirely a different path, and you never know what area of life you might unexpectedly find them in.
Published by Patrick Jane