We are of course all aware of the football stars that play in the top flight domestic and international teams. We also know of many up and coming stars in the teams we follow in the lower leagues, even though they may be less famous. However, what you may not know is that there are many athletes and sports stars that cross from their primary professions into the football game. Below is a selection of famous sports stars that are also skillful on a football pitch.
Michael Schumacher is a controversial character in the sport of Formula One due to a few on-track incidents. However, he is the most successful driver in the history of the sport, with more World Drivers’ Championship titles, overall race wins, fastest laps and podium finishes than any other driver. He was also the holder of the title for most pole positions, before being recently overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. Away from the race track, Schumacher regularly played football, appearing during several charity football games and regularly playing for his local team FC Echichens.
Usain Bolt, the fastest man on Earth and the ambassador for PokerStars is most famous for his record-breaking 100-metres sprint runs at the Olympic Games and other athletic competitions. However, he also regularly plays football with his friends and has admitted to even playing regularly during his career in track and field sports. In an interview in early 2018, he said that he was looking at the possibility of a professional football career by attending some trials to see whether his playing level is high enough to compete professionally.
Erin Phillips is a former professional Australian basketball player, regarded as one of the best in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). She was competing for both the Australian Institute of Sport and the Adelaide Lightning during her career, as well as a number of American WNBA teams, including the Los Angeles Sparks and Indiana Fever. After success in basketball, she made the switch to Australian rules football, signing for Adelaide in 2016, where she continues to play.
Ronald Albert Ernest Tindall was both a footballer and cricketer during the mid 20th century. He played for several big name English teams, including West Ham and Chelsea. When at the latter team, he negotiated an arrangement where he was granted permission to miss the beginning and end of the football season so that he could play cricket for Surrey. He played cricket for a decade, between 1956 and 1966, and continued with football until 1969. He later managed the Portsmouth football team before emigrating to Australia.
Nia Jones simultaneously represents her native Wales at both football and netball in international competitions. Playing netball for the Celtic Dragons and the Welsh national team she competed in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2013 Netball Europe Open Championship. She has played football for Cardiff City, Reading and most recently Yeovil. She has since begun focusing more on Netball and in 2018 also attended a training camp for successful athletes to learn Australian Rules Football.
Katie Taylor is both a professional boxer and a successful pro footballer. She represented the Republic of Ireland between 2006 and 2009 and has played for teams including Lourdes Celtic and Peamount United. She simultaneously succeeded in her boxing career, winning medals in every year between 2005 and 2016, including golds in the World and European Amateur Championships, European Games and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Generally, sports stars don’t tend to succeed in multiple disciplines, mostly because of the intense dedication required to succeed in a single sport. But occasionally some extremely talented athletes do break this mould. Whether they take up football at a lower level generally seems to depend on their success in their other sport. For example, Michael Schumacher and Usain Bolt are both record holders and have dominated their fields, therefore their footballing abilities lag behind. However, some others seem to be more evenly matched, like Katie Taylor who has played competed in football and boxing simultaneously for a long time.