Steven Gerrard, former England and (longest serving) Liverpool captain officially announced his retirement from professional football yesterday. While he remains England’s fourth most capped player of all time – preceded by Peter Shilton, Wayne Rooney and David Beckham – his 18 year association with the club saw him lead it to its famous Champions League final victory over AC Milan in 2005 while also bringing home the FA Cup twice (2001, 2006), the League Cup on three occasions (2001, 2003, 2012) and the UEFA Cup once (2001).
He has announced he will take his time to consider his next career move.
We will wait patiently to know what that is.
Till then let’s munch on chana and reminisce about erstwhile famous football players whose careers took a very different route after they hung up their boots:
- Stuart Ripley
Once a winger with Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers, Southampton and England, and a Premier League winner with Blackburn in 1995, Ripley started his career at an early age of 16. He also played in England’s top flight for Southampton as well as playing in the Football League for Middlesbrough, Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday. He earned two national caps for England. By the time he retired he was 34 and left with the thought that while he lived his dream of being a professional athlete, he had missed out on education. After taking a bit of time out, he enrolled at the University of Central Lancashire and took a combined course: French, criminology and law.
In 2010 Ripley became a qualified solicitor. He is a member of FA’s Judicial Panel hearing cases relating to matters such as doping, safeguarding, agent activity and discrimination, and is a prospective law lecturer, Ribble Valley, Lancashire.
- Peter Bonetti
Nicknamed ‘The Cat’, Peter collected seven England caps, but with Chelsea he was a great hero of many victories, notably playing for England in the 1970 World Cup quarter final against Germany. He specialized in a one-armed throw which could achieve a similar distance to a drop kick and was known for his safe handling, lightning reflexes and his graceful style. He made 600 League appearances before retiring, after which he worked as a postman at the Isle of Mull.
- David Hillier
A former Arsenal midfielder known best for his win of First Division title in 1991, he was aware he couldn’t perform as well as he had during his hay days with Arsenal with whom he had won the championship, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup. He played 43 matches during 1992 – 93, and made a name for himself as a combative, strong midfielder who would compensate any shortcomings in skill with his work rate. His search for a profession that would match the adrenaline rush and team work of his earlier career landed him the perfect replacement– the job of a fire-fighter.
- Jeff Whitley
A product of the Manchester City youth scheme which he joined as a ten-year-old, Whitley and began his club career as a trainee in 1996. Later, he twice won promotion to the Premiership with Manchester City in 2000 and Sunderland in 2005, and was a Northern Ireland international with 20 international caps. However, his career as a football player ended before he was 30 when he fell into alcoholism and drugs while at Manchester City. He now works as a second-hand cars salesman at Stockport.
- John Chiedozie
John Chiedozie is a Nigerian former professional who played winger for Leyton Orient, Notts County, Tottenham Hotspur, Derby County and Chesterfield, and represented Nigeria at international level on nine occasions. In 2002, he was honoured with the title of Officer of the Order of Niger by President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo for his contribution to Nigerian football.
He now runs a children’s soft play equipment (bouncy castles) business in Hampshire.
- Frank Leboeuf
The football player, who was once a part of the French national team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2000 European Championships as well as a number of domestic trophies also during his 5 years at Chelsea, took to the silver in his subsequent career leap. An actor now he recently appeared in the Oscar nominated The Theory of Everything (he played the doctor who informs a young Stephen Hawking that he is never going to walk again)
- Bixente Lizarazu
The retired Basque-French footballer , in a twelve-year international career from 1992 to 2004, played in three European championships and two World Cups for France, winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Bixente Lizarazu played as a left-back for Bordeaux and Bayern Munich, among other teams. He also had 97 caps for the French national team.
After his football career, he went on to show his athleticism in an all different sport – Jiu-Jitsu. He became European champion in the Blue Belt Senior 1 Light Division in 2009.
- Arjan de Zeeuw
This retired Dutch footballer changed careers thrice – he was studying for a medical degree when he bagged the opportunity to play professional football in England where he captained several teams at Barnsley, Wigan, Portsmouth and Coventry.
When he returned to his country 13 years later it was too late for him to pursue a career in medicine from where he left off. Instead, he ventured into the realm of a police detective at Alkmaar, and has since been involved in cases related to burglaries, robberies and human trafficking, and looks forward to working on murders and kidnappings as well.
- Mark Ward
This FA Trophy runner-up 1983 with Northwich Victoria was also a winger for West Ham, Manchester City and Everton, and finished third in the First Division with West Ham in 1986. Unable to handle his funds smartly, he rented out a flat in which the police found four kilos of cocaine. Since football, Mark Ward has been best known for his time in prison.
- Ramon “Ray” Wilson
Spotted first while playing an amateur match, the then railwayman went on to be an Everton full-back and was a part of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup. In the same year, he won the FA Cup with Everton, and, remains to this day Huddersfield’s most-capped England international. Post athletics, Ray Wilson broadened his vocational horizons, becoming an undertaker in Huddersfield.