Football

Six of the smartest sports stars on the planet

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If you want to be a sports star then there is a familiar checklist to go by:

  • Tall
  • Strong
  • Indifference to pain
  • Dedication to improve

Needless to say, intelligence is not generally required to become a professional sports star–before you say it, chess is not a sport, unless you're in Azerbaijan. The amount of dedication needed to make it to the top usually requires the athlete to give up their academic career at a young age, leaving them as dim as a candle in the wind.

However, there are some who buck this trend and still manage to achieve incredible feats of academia whilst also succeeding in their chosen field of physical activity. Here we take a look at six, mainly footballers, who fall into the bracket of boffins – a boffin bracket, if you will, or maybe a boffet.

6. Omar Nour - Triathlon

Let us start with the most obscure. GiveMeSport spoke to Omar Nour last year to find out exactly how he became one of the best paid athletes on the International Triathlon Union circuit despite never winning an event. The answer: Many business smarts.

Nour went to medical school before dropping out to start what would become a successful telecommunications business with his brother. He would later ditch it to concentrate on triathlon.

Turning professional in his mid-thirties, Nour knew he would never beat the Brownlee brothers or Javier Gomez. He did, however, know how to make money, and lots of it. Focusing on building a brand, Nour is now a household name in Abu Dhabi where he cuts out a lucrative living from sponsorship instead of prize money. Like I said, many business smarts.

5. Patrick Bamford - Football

Patrick Bamford has been scoring goals for fun in the English Championship this season; well, 14. Even so, the 21-year-old has impressed and has been tipped to become a decent Premier League striker in the near future.

But the on-loan Chelsea striker could have taken very different path indeed. Bamford rejected a scholarship from the prestigious Harvard University in the USA to continue his pursuit of a career in football.

He is conversational in German and French and is planning to learn Spanish in the near future. After training he usually goes home to practice the guitar, saxophone, violin or the piano, whichever takes his fancy, I suppose.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick - NFL

If you are a quarterback for an NFL team called the New York Jets, you may be excused for baulking at even the most basic of maths questions. But for Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose job description conveniently matches the one I just wrote about, he would take said maths question in his stride.

It's not just Fitz-Patrick but his six-year-old son who can tackle silly questions as well, as the below video proves.

The much-respected passer-of-the-football entered the NFL draft in 2005 after graduating from Harvard University–yes, the same one Bamford rejected–with a degree in economics. That is impressive, but the 32-year-old is smart enough to know his educational background holds no weight in his current profession.

He told Fox Sports: "When you walk into a job interview almost anywhere else and announce that you are a Harvard graduate, it pretty much has some weight. But when you walk into the NFL and say, 'Harvard,' well . . . "

3. Dennis Bergkamp - Football

Dennis Bergkamp is probably one of the most intelligent footballers to grace the Premier League. Not blessed with pace or strength, the Dutchman still managed to score a hatful of goals for Arsenal with his manipulation of the space available and the inferior defenders around him. At his best, he was a joy to watch.

But what few fans know is that Bergkamp took up a degree in mechanical engineering at Bath University while he was writing his name into Arsenal folklore. We couldn't find what distinction he achieved, but any degree will at least put him ahead of Joey Barton's constant quoting of Oscar Wilde.

Sorry, Joey.

2. Craig Breslow - Baseball

I could try and break down the plethora of statistics that sum up why Craig Breslow is a good pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but I'm not as smart as he it. Those silly numbers can stay encrypted.

But a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from the University of Yale needs no further unriddling. It's just damn well impressive. 

That's exactly what Breslow has in his locker when his elbow inevitably gives up the ghost and his career in the MLB comes to an end. Another thing he has in his locker: a picture of Albert Einstein. How fitting.

1. Frank Lampard - Football

He may not know what a contract looks like, but Frank Lampard certainly knows his way around an IQ test.

The former England international will go down in history as one of the great midfield goal scorers, but had he not found himself in a Chelsea shirt he could well have been the man to finally link quantum mechanics with general relativity.

There is also a strong chance that he wouldn't have done that.

We don't know if he plays for Manchester City or New York FC but we do know that he is the only Premier League footballer with an A in GCSE Latin. But even that is doesn't separate him from the likes of Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane as much as this next fact.

No, the 36-year-old has achieved even grander feats than learning a defunkt language.

Back in 2009 it was claimed that Lampard registered one of the highest scores experts had ever seen in a routine IQ test. The Telegraph report it was more than 150 on the scale, placing him in the 99.9th percentile of humans.

To put that into context, mathematics wizard and all-round fox Carol Vorderman has an IQ of 154 while Einstein himself is estimated to have had an IQ of 160.

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Topics:
Frank Lampard
Football
Dennis Bergamp

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