There is no denying that playing football at the top level in modern times is a very lucrative career. It is, however, a career that doesn’t last forever.
While many former professionals seek to stay in the game through either coaching, punditry or management, others have couldn’t have strayed further away from the world of football after hanging up their boots – with some choosing to follow some very random career paths.
Below, we’ve taken a look at 10 of the strangest examples of players’ post-football careers. Some have proved lucrative, others less so. Naturally, ex-professionals have got to do something to fill the void left by the game, but some of these occupations are particularly outlandish.
10 former Premier League footballers who had the most random careers after retirement
Daniel Agger (Tattoo Artist/Sewage Management)
The passion of former Liverpool central defender Agger for tattoos was clear for all to see during his time in the Anfield back-line – as ink was displayed prominently all over his body.
Following his premature retirement in 2016, trained tattoo artist Agger became involved with a now world-renowned parlour called Tattoodo.
This wasn’t Agger’s only unorthodox venture, however, as he also co-owns a sewage management company in his native Denmark.
KloAgger, which translates to English as Agger toilet, is run by Agger’s brother Marco on a day-to-day basis – although the former Liverpool man is still a part of key business decisions.
Despite having these interests, though, the lure of the beautiful game proved too much for Agger in March 2021, when he agreed to become the head coach of Danish first division side HB Koge.
Sun Jihai (Sports Data)
The first Chinese player to ever compete – and score – in the Premier League, Jihai most famously represented Manchester City between 2002 and 2008.
After returning to his homeland, Jihai called time on his career in 2016, after which he announced the formation of a sports technology and data company known as HQ Sports.
Now boasting a user base of over 400 million in China, the company has reportedly made Jihai upwards of £20 million. Not a bad return if you can get it.
Fabien Barthez (Racing Driver)
Never the most level-headed of players during his days competing for the likes of Marseille, Monaco and Manchester United, eccentric French World Cup-winning goalkeeper Barthez was unlikely to be one to retire quietly.
Within a year of hanging up his gloves in 2007, Barthez had thrown himself into the world of motor racing – and has had much success since.
A former French GT champion, Barthez will take part in his fourth Le Mans race later this year.
“I have always been fascinated by motorsport, even when I was playing football. It always intrigued me,” said Barthez, per The Sun, on his transition to racing.
“I wanted to understand what it felt like being in a car. I had to wait until the end of my pro career to try it.
“That said, it’s not like football: you can still be good even when you are 35, which was my age when I stopped playing.”
Arjan de Zeeuw (Detective)
Part of the back-line charged with defending Wigan Athletic’s goal during their first two seasons in the Premier League, De Zeeuw was no stranger to problem-solving during his career.
Since walking away from the game, the Dutchman has been dealing with conundrums of a different kind – as an investigative detective.
“Like football, it’s very much a team effort. You rarely ever solve a crime on your own,” said De Zeeuw of his role in an interview with BBC Sport.
Thomas Gravesen (Poker Player)
Former Real Madrid and Everton midfielder Gravesen lived an incredibly colourful life in the first few years of his post-retirement life.
Quitting the game at just 32, Gravesen moved to Las Vegas to play poker professionally. Having already built up a considerable net worth through some profitable investments, Gravesen was able to enjoy the high life in Sin City, frequently rubbing shoulders with celebrities.
Now back doing television punditry in his native Denmark, we can’t confirm whether Gravesen simply got burned out by the relentless Vegas lifestyle or if his luck at the tables was that bad that he felt the need to leave.
Philippe Albert (Greengrocer)
An early morning start to sell fruit and veg probably isn’t something you’ll see many ex-Premier League players embracing. For former Newcastle defender Phillipe Albert, though, the change of pace was a welcome one.
A member of Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side who came within a whisker of winning the English top-flight in 1996, Albert explained to The Guardian why the life of a greengrocer held so much appeal for him.
“I would prepare the produce for customers. I did it for 11 years and didn’t touch the money I earned in my football career,” admitted the Belgian.
“Up early, finishing late, that’s what I wanted: a normal life. I’m very proud of it. Otherwise, when you stop football, you do nothing. You have no life.”
Gavin Peacock (Pastor)
A key member of Chelsea’s midfield in the mid-1990’s, Peacock left Stamford Bridge for Queens Park Rangers in 1996.
Remaining with the Hoops until his retirement in 2002, Peacock initially sought out a career as a television pundit after calling time on his playing career. While he had success in the role, Peacock’s true calling lay with his Christian faith.
Leaving England for Canada, Peacock embarked on a three-year Masters course in his new home – and now serves as a pastor at Calvary Grace Church in Calgary.
Royston Drenthe (Rapper)
The once-promising footballing career of Drenthe never really hit the heights that some predicted it would.
A standout performance for the Netherlands in their victorious campaign at the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championships alerted Real Madrid to the winger’s potential.
Things didn’t go to plan for Drenthe at the Bernabeu, though. After being deemed surplus to requirements in the Spanish capital, he drifted around a number of clubs including spells in England, Russia and Turkey (among others).
In 2016, following his release by UAE Pro League side Baniyas Club, Drenthe declared himself retired for football – and would now focus on his dream of becoming a rapper.
His music, released under the name ‘Roya2Faces’, was not well received and Drenthe was back playing football just two years later.
Declared bankrupt last year, Drenthe now turns out for Spanish lower-tier outfit Racing Murcia – with his visions of lyrical stardom long in the past.
Ramon Vega (Financier)
Hardly a household name during his playing days, former Spurs and Switzerland centre-back Vega has done far better money-wise since retirement than he ever did on the pitch.
As a hedge fund manager, Vega was in charge of more than £1 billion in assets for his clients at one stage, earning himself some staggering commissions in the process.
The effects of Brexit saw Vega’s firm run into trouble, however, and the company was ultimately liquidated.
Mathieu Flamini (Biochemistry)
Eco-sustainability and the bio-economy are not the first two terms that you might associate with a combative former Arsenal and AC Milan midfielder, but it’s in this area where Mathieu Flamini has made an absolute fortune.
Since founding GF Biochemicals together with business partner Pasquale Granata, Flamini has seen the company explode in value.
Specialising in the production of a fuel made from plant waste known as Levulinic acid – used in the production of plastic – the company is now reportedly worth an eye-watering £30 billion.
Helping the planet while still raking it in, Flamini really has found the best of both worlds.
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