They say that football is a short career and there are indeed countless examples of players who weren’t able to realise their full potential after showing early promise. Many blame a lack of commitment to training or allowing themselves to be too distracted by matters away from sport, so it is important for players to unwind.
And a growing number are discovering more unusual pursuits away from the pitch that are helping to keep their mind clear, composed and ready to produce optimum focus when they next pull on a pair of boots.
Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo recently revealed that he sometimes kills time away from his responsibilities with club and country by playing bingo. He even used the game to help him practice English during his days with Manchester United.
Fortunately for Ronaldo, the boom in online casinos makes it easier than ever for him to practice his favourite hobby, with websites like CasinoWings.com offering enthusiasts a choice of websites where players can enjoy games like bingo on the go.
While Ronaldo shows that hobbies away from the field don’t have to be particularly physical or taxing to be worthwhile, one player whose hobby is a little more high-octane is recently retired goalkeeper Petr Cech.
The Czech international enjoyed a superb career in Europe, most notably with Chelsea and Arsenal, and when he wasn’t between the posts he kept his pulse racing through drumming. Cech’s talents with the sticks, snare and bass pedal can be witnessed on YouTube, and perhaps help explain his quick reactions in the box.
Robin van Persie
Another player whose hobbies have helped promote quick reflexes is Robin van Persie, who complements his passion for football with a flair for table tennis.
The Dutch veteran appears almost as comfortable with a bat in hand as he does with the ball at his feet, once boasting that he was “the best table tennis player at Arsenal”. We’re not entirely sure how much competition there was for that title at the time, though.
Though admired for their athleticism, footballers are often unfairly typecast as being unintelligent, but one star helping to buck that trend is Theo Walcott. The former Arsenal star, now with Everton, relaxes away from the field by writing and is a published author of children’s books.
And while many footballers pursue a hobby simply to relax, Walcott has succeeded in turning what many may dismiss as an off-field distraction into a lucrative side-project, producing a whole series of books revolving around a young footballer player called TJ.
The final player on our list is another who has seen his casual interest outside of football evolve into a second income. Though now retired, Michael Owen is still a familiar face to soccer fans through his work as a television pundit.
But he is perhaps even more busy down the stables, as he dedicates a huge part of his life to the management of his own horse racing portfolio. The ex Liverpool, Newcastle and Man Utd star tasted success at Ascot in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength in the sport ever since, even trying his hand as a jockey.
So, while players often attract criticism for living the high life while not kitted out at training on match days, bear in mind those stars that are making far more of their free time than just kicking back and relaxing.