Premier League players who have had wildly different careers since retiring


After a career in the Premier League spotlight most footballers appear content to turn their hand to management, appear on the sidelines with a microphone in hand or just take up a cosy life on the golf course.

But there are a rare few who take a wildly different path once they have hung up their boots. 

Footballers rake in millions from lucrative careers and a second career is rarely on their radar. Careers at the top-flight allow them to retire into comfortable lifestyles with some flirting with punditry or management. 

But others fancy a change of scenery after leaving the industry that thrust them into the limelight. Sportsmail looks at some of the bizarre career paths players have taken.

Arjan De Zeeuw became a detective with the Dutch police

Vinnie Jones (L) and Arjan De Zeeuw (R) switched to wildly different careers after football

ARJAN DE ZEEUW – DETECTIVE

Former Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic defender De Zeeuw, who was once named by Tony Blair as his favourite player, swapped the backline for the frontline as a detective. 

After retiring De Zeeuw had intended on returning to the Netherlands to study medicine in a bid to become a doctor. 

But after 13 years in England the Dutchman found it too difficult to get started again and swapped a life of saving lives for fighting crime.  

The former centre back enjoyed a 17-year career playing in England and his native Netherlands, making over 200 appearances for the likes of Wigan, Coventry and Portsmouth but since retiring in 2009 he now works as a detective in his hometown Alkmaar.

Former Wigan captain Arjan de Zeeuw (R) swapped the backline for the police frontline

Former Wigan captain Arjan de Zeeuw (R) swapped the backline for the police frontline 

The former centre back works as a detective in his hometown Alkmaar since retiring in 2009

The former centre back works as a detective in his hometown Alkmaar since retiring in 2009

FABIEN BARTHEZ – RACING DRIVER

As a World Cup and European Championship winner Fabien Barthez enjoyed a playing career at Marseille and Manchester United but since retiring he has enjoyed different success. 

The Frenchman swapped his life between the posts for the steering wheel as he took to the track as a motor racing driver. 

Now 50, the shot-stopper has been a professional racing driver and team owner and has achieved some success to boot. 

The two-time Premier League winner took up the sport in 2008 and went on to become the French GT Champion in 2013 and has raced in Le Mans three times. 

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez won the World Cup and European Championship with France

Fabien Barthez became the French GT Champion in 2013 and has raced in Le Mans three times

Two-time Premier League winner Fabien Barthez became a professional racing driver in 2008

MATHIEU FLAMINI – BIOCHEM

The Frenchman may have never officially hung up his boots but it is safe to say his playing days are behind him as his last professional appearance came in 2019 for Getafe. 

Flamini was never a standout player, surrounded by the likes of Thierry Henry, Kaka and Ronaldinho but he wanted to use his platform for good. 

He established GFBioChemicals, which is a ‘clean energy’ business that focuses on manufacturing sustainable alternatives to crude oil. 

Mathieu Flamini has used his platform for good, protesting against climate change in 2018

Mathieu Flamini has used his platform for good, protesting against climate change in 2018

STUART RIPLEY – LAWYER

Former Blackburn Rovers winger Stuart Ripley won two England caps and a Premier League title before retiring in 2002. 

After retiring Ripley initially went into sports physiotherapy for local rugby and football teams before a spell on the sidelines coaching non-league side Wigan Cosmos, whilst completing his UEFA coaching badges.

But he eventually returned to education, studying for a degree in French, Criminology and Law at the University of Central Lancashire. 

Ripley qualified as a solicitor in 2010 and went on to work in the sports law department of a firm in the North West before becoming a law lecturer.  

DAVID HILLIER – FIREFIGHTER

Homegrown ace Hillier made 143 appearances for Arsenal, winning multiple trophies, before retiring in 2002 following his release from Bristol Rovers. 

After failing three interviews, Hillier finally landed a job as a firefighter. 

He revealed that it was his wife, Zoe, who suggested the career a couple of years after he stepped away from the game.   

Homegrown Arsenal ace David Hillier (bottom) became a firefighter after retirement

Homegrown Arsenal ace David Hillier (bottom) became a firefighter after retirement 

JULIAN DICKS – PUB LANDLORD AND ATTEMPTED PRO GOLFER

Julian Dicks is a man of many talents – well, at least many careers. 

He was forced to retire in his 20s due to an injured knee but he has turned his hand to many ventures. 

After a playing career that saw him become a West Ham legend, play for Liverpool and get sent off a total of nine times, Dicks tried to make it as a professional golfer.

The football hardman played off scratch and even had the same coach as Colin Montgomerie at one point. 

But the demands of professional life on the course proved too much for his knee, depriving the golfing world of a real life Happy Gilmour. 

Dicks also ended up running a pub before returning to the Hammers as Slaven Bilic’s assistant.  

JODY CRADDOCK – ARTIST 

A number of footballers are known for their creative flair on the pitch but if asked which ones carried it over to an art exhibition, we would automatically reach for the likes of Andrea Pirlo or Xabi Alonso. 

It comes as a shock to find that it was former Wolves defender Jody Craddock who once had his artwork adorning the walls of a gallery. 

Art fairs and exhibitions have become a regular fixture for the former Wolves captain whose portfolio features Renaissance-influenced canvases and statue-based paintings.

He has also received commissions from David Beckham, John Terry and the Wolves matchday programme. 

Former Wolves defender Jody Craddock (R) has developed a portfolio of artwork

Former Wolves defender Jody Craddock (R) has developed a portfolio of artwork 

VINNIE JONES – ACTOR

The Crazy Gang hardman has found mainstream success by swapping Wimbledon for Hollywood.

Jones won the FA Cup in 1988 but is most known for being a threatening geezer in the middle of the park, which has translated to his roles in front of the camera. 

His acting career has now far eclipsed his football career. 

Sprawling over years, his life on-screen has seen him collaborate with Guy Ritchie, make a cameo in the X-Men franchise and nab a recurring role in ‘Law & Order: Organised crime’. 

Hardman Vinnie Jones (centre) currently stars as Albi Briscu in Law & Order: Organised Crime

Hardman Vinnie Jones (centre) currently stars as Albi Briscu in Law & Order: Organised Crime

HAKAN SUKUR – MP

Most famously known for scoring the quickest-ever goal at a World Cup, the Turkish striker has endured a rollercoaster career since hanging up his boots.

The former Blackburn player spent most of his career at Galatasaray and is the all-time leading goalscorer in the Super Lig but graced the Premier League for one season between 2002 and 2003. 

After retiring from football, Sukur went into politics and in 2011 was elected to Turkey’s Parliament as a member of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party. 

But relations soured between the two after Sukur was linked to the attempted coup in 2016 which resulted in him being branded as a ‘fugitive member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO)’. 

He now lives in exile in the US, telling the BBC he works as a taxi driver and sells books.

Ex-Galatasaray star Hakan Sukur was elected to Turkish parliament in 2011 but now lives in US

Ex-Galatasaray star Hakan Sukur was elected to Turkish parliament in 2011 but now lives in US

THOMAS GRAVESEN – POKER PLAYER 

Former Everton midfielder Thomas Gravesen swapped the pitch for the poker table after retiring in 2009. 

Once dubbed ‘Mad Dog’ for his antics on the pitch, Gravesen seems to be living a much more glamorous life now as a poker playboy millionaire in Las Vegas.

Gravesen, who had a bizarre stint at Real Madrid, has amassed a fortune of over $100million (£76m) through poker winnings alone, according to the Daily Star.

He reportedly settled in a Las Vegas gated residence with his Czech model wife Kamila Persse for eight years before returning to his homeland Denmark.



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