The ones that got Away XI

Whether it be Hoddle and Waddle (, Keegan’s “Head over heels in love” (, Andy Andrew Cole’s 00’s R&B anthem (, or Vinnie Jones hard man acting career ( we all know about those footballers who have ventured beyond the safety of the hallowed turf in search of fame and adulation in other spheres.

But what about the other side of the coin? Here is a look at some of those who got away; tempted by the bright lights of celebrity fame or other sporting pastures, these individuals either turned down a career in professional football or fell at the final hurdle.


–          Just look at him. The man contains enough swagger and confidence to control even the most unruly of defences. He has sold over 300 million records worldwide and released 80 albums yet it could all have been very different had he not suffered a serious car accident in 1963 which curtailed a promising goalkeeping career. While completing a law degree in Madrid, Iglesias occasionally turned out for Los Blancos feeder side Real Madrid Castilla and at 6ft 1 is a commanding presence in net.

Most likely to: Woo an opposition player’s better half.


–          The actor who, in recent times, has seemingly gone on a one man rampage to portray any famous British figure worth his salt in recent history was invited to enter Arsenal’s youth team at the age of 12 but his family refused to move from their native Wales. The man who has played Frost, Blair, and Kenneth Williams could give a fairly stirring half time team talk if he donned his Brian Clough persona too.

Most likely to: have identity issues on the pitch.


–          Whilst Ramsay’s himself may have embellished his glittering Rangers career ever so slightly it still stands that the foul-mouthed celebrity chef did at least have trials with the Glasgow giants. A shoe in for the centre back role due in large part to his ability with words rather than his feet a back injury ensured channel four’s evening schedule was safe for years to come.

Most likely to: Get sent off for foul and abusive language.


–         Complimenting the physicality of Ramsay is Doctor Who star Smith as we search for the classic defensive partnership of strength and vision. Smith played youth football for Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest, and Leicester City alongside the likes of Michael Dawson and Jermaine Jenas and it was only after a recurring case of spondylosis that he turned to acting.

Most likely to: Metamorphose half way through the second half.


–          Iron maiden founding member and self confessed West Ham nut, slotting in at left back Steve Harris could have rivalled Stuart Pearce both in his position and music tastes. A trialist for his beloved club as a youngster Harris chose long haired rock and roll over the tightly nit perm fashionable with players at the time. Any man with a full sized football pitch in his back garden deserves a place in the starting line up.

Most likely to: compose a team anthem.


–          We all witnessed the pace of Rutherford as he galloped down the Olympic stadium long jump track to Gold medal fame last year and Rutherford could have been putting that pace to use on the touchlines of Premier league grounds having had trials with Aston Villa before turning his focus to athletics.  Has football in his veins with his great grandfather Jock Rutherford having won 11 England caps in years gone by.

Most likely to: Win a penalty with a controversial foul just outside the  centre circle penalty area.


–          The old head of the team, Frost has both the confidence and intelligence to play that creative midfielder role. Before going on to become one of the most well-respected journalists in the country Frost turned down a professional contract with Nottingham Forest choosing instead to head to Cambridge University and subsequent stardom. Not sure many footballers have those options when signing pro contracts these days.

Most likely to: be sent out for the post-match interview.


–          Perhaps the individual with the most footballing pedigree, Botham combined his England test career with the odd game for Scunthorpe United and Yeovil Town in the mid-eighties amassing 11 games in the football league. The “commeth-the-hour commeth-the-man” role perfected as England captain could come in useful if in search of an injury time winner.

Most likely to: be seen on next week’s “showboat” section of Soccer AM.


–          Marr himself jokes he could have signed for Man City if they hadn’t been put off by his eyeliner. The foil to Morrisey in ‘The Smiths’ for a number of years Marr had trials for City and Forest (yet again!) before choosing to enter the world of 1980’s music. Would ghost down that left wing with a reserved confidence.

Most likely to: have his hairstyle copied by Leighton Baines.


–          Even if his first touch sends the ball 40 metres down field I wouldn’t bet against this man catching it. The former GB sprinter actually postponed his athletics career in 1995 at the age of 21 in pursuit of professional football. Subsequent trials followed at Plymouth Argyle, Newport County and Weymouth respectively, but a return to the track was imminent and the rest as they say is Olympic history. Now works for Cardiff City as sprint coach making the most qualified for the position of player-manager.

Most likely to: beat the offside trap.


–          Creating perhaps the fastest front two in footballing history the six time Olympic gold medallist could have taken his pick of the sports as a youngster. Although never officially given the opportunity by a professional club he spent hours playing football in the streets before the sprint mad nation saw his potential. Rumoured to be making an appearance in Rio Ferdinand’s upcoming testimonial and with his height he would be a handful.

Most likely to: inspire a celebration copied across the nation on a Sunday morning.

julio 1

sheen 2         ed_imgramsayramsay3_198409a           matt smith           harris 3

rutherford                frost (c) (c)         botham           marr

campbell                Bolt





Yuri thought himself in a position of inconvenience to say the least. But this time his renowned penchant for understatement was being tested. As he lay motionless on the floor of his 16th story, one bedroom apartment, in the same prone position he had occupied for the previous eighteen hours and thirty-six minutes (god bless his $2 watch from the market – who says you can’t get value these days he thought), his main concern was not why his body had suddenly refused to cooperate, but why no one seemed to care about his whereabouts.

No call from the warehouse foreman. No note from Mrs Donovan across the hall, even though he knew she would have been alone today on her daily 7.50am descent down the stairs. Nothing. If only he had plucked up the courage to give his number to that girl at the coffee shop then at least he would have been able to think of three people he could blame for not taking an interest.

If this had happened in his native Ukraine, he thought, he wouldn’t have been able to move for the commotion caused by his disappearance. As he chuckled at the irony of this last turn of phrase he shocked himself as the deep sound shattered the overwhelming silence. One more futile attempt to wiggle his toe followed before Yuri looked down at his watch once more. The second hand was no longer moving.