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Rio Ferdinand, boxer? Other footballers who made strange career moves

Wednesday 20th September 2017
On Tuesday morning, Rio Ferdinand announced that he plans to take up professional boxing with his “defender to contender” movement. The announcement has raised a great deal of discussion from those of mockery through to sheer bewilderment.  Here are five other former footballers who made strange career moves post-retirement.

Fabien Barthez

Ferdinand's former Man United teammate was number one between the sticks at Old Trafford for three years before moving back to France in 2004 to see out his career. A former World Cup winner and two-time Premier League champion, Barthez will have looked back at his career in football with a great sense of pride after retiring in 2007. However, instead of opting for a relaxed life of luxury, Barthez instead became a race car driver! It began as nothing too major but grew into serious racing as he has competed in the coveted 24 Le Mans race three times since 2014.

Tim Wiese

A former Germany goalkeeper, and Bundesliga mainstay for the likes of Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim, Tim Wiese is another shot-stopper who turned to a new sport after retirement from the beautiful game. He called time on his playing career in September 2014, citing he had been involved in early discussions to turn to WWE and become a professional wrestler. Two years later he accepted an offer from none other than the federation vice-president of talent to make the plan a reality. Wiese then became a full-fledged wrestler and signed up to the famous federation, with his wrestling name being the “The Machine.”
Bixente Lizarazu

Not the most familiar name in the world of football, but French full-back Lizarazu was a World Cup and European Championship winner and part of the same squad as the aforementioned Barthez. Lizarazu retired from football in 2006, and almost immediately after he joined the list of footballers who made strange career moves, by taking up Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. In 2009, he became a European champion in the sport, competing in the Blue Belt Senior light division. Not many footballers can say they have been a European champion in two different sports, but Lizarazu can boast that achievement for evermore.

Eric Cantona

One of the greatest to ever pull on the Manchester United shirt; Cantona was the catalyst to the Red Devils Premier League dominance of the 90's. However, he seemingly retired too early - at the age of just 30, the Frenchman shocked manager Sir Alex Ferguson by citing his intention to leave football behind. After his retirement, Cantona, in true Cantona fashion, became an actor. To this day he remains active within French cinema. He has starred in numerous French films and documentaries whilst also having his own English film produced back in 2009. The film, looking for Eric, was very much a United fan's dream while also keeping to the Drama genre.

Andriy Shevchenko

Once one of the most feared strikers in world footballer. Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko was no stranger to the world of politics, even during his career, after publically backing the social democratic party of Ukraine in the late 90's along with some of his Dynamo Kiev teammates. In 2012 he retired from football and immediately became second on the list for the political party “Ukraine – forward.” The party failed to win parliamentary status however, and now Shevchenko has returned to the world of football as manager of the countries national team.
Naturally, there is life for a player after they retire. When finishing your main profession at mid to late 30's, there has to be! Some go straight into the route of coaching, others look to become pundits, while some even just slip away from football and lead a quieter life. But, much like Rio Ferdinand, some opt for radical new ventures, both in and out of sport - ones that raise eyebrows and cause quite the fuss. Ferdinand's new career option will surely be watched with great interest by fans of both football and boxing alike.
Ryan Stewart

23 years old, Sport Journalism graduate living in Salford. Work in web content in Media city and always looking to break in to sports writing. Manchester United season ticket holder.

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