The Surprising Hobbies of Football Pros

To say professional football is a demanding profession would be an understatement. Anyone who makes it big within the globally popular sport will be consumed by the game, dedicated entirely too strenuous training routines and an aggressively competitive mentality.

Sometimes, this does the player more harm than good. If you look at the most successful footballers, you’ll find that a lot of them have something in common; a second hobby to take their mind off things when they want to escape the sensationalist world of football for a bit. Not all of these hobbies are very predictable, either…

Writing

Arsenal star Theo Walcott not only has a love for a game, but wants to share it with others too. In his children’s books, Walcott writes about a boy called TJ who plays football with a school team.

The books are intended to encourage sportsmanship and ambition amongst kids, with all four titles becoming popular hits in the UK. The ex-Manchester United striker, Eric Cantona, also enjoys writing, although he focuses on philosophical poetry as opposed to children’s books.

Poker

Neymar Jr isn’t the only footballer with a passion for poker (Tomas Brolin, Gerard Pique and Teddy Sheringham to name but a few others), but he is arguably the most prolific poker playing footballer right now. Raising money for his charity, the Neymar Jr Institute, he has hosted high-stake poker games with other footballers and notable figures to aid underprivileged children in Brazil.

Though practically every major online poker room brand wanted a piece of Neymar Jr when he started playing professional, it was PokerStars that got its hand on the footballer for marketing purposes. Neymar Jr filmed a promotional video for PokerStars that showed his love for the game in a social context.

Bingo

Real Madrid star Ronaldo hasn’t always had an easy time expressing himself in English. When he joined Manchester United, he knew he needed to improve upon his English language skills - which he did in an unconventional way.

Through an addictive DVD bingo game he’d received as a Christmas gift, Ronaldo started picking up on certain English words and phrases. Now he plays more for fun than education. Whether he also frequents bingo halls is unknown, but we’d like to think so.

Wine

Italy’s Andrea Pirlo has a hobby which is in fact not so surprising considering his nationality - namely, wine making. The footballer even owns his own vineyard, located in Lombardy. He inherited his wine company, Pratum Coller, from his family, and now tends to it in Italy. When he’s not on the football field, he’s relaxing in the countryside with a glass of his own red.

Baking

One of the more unlikely hobbies of a football pro; Germany’s Moritz Voltz has something of a flair for baking. In his blog, he explains how taking to the kitchen and whipping up a cake before a big match helps calm his nerves. Apparently, he even bakes the cake in the theme of his opponent team.

Tattoos

Denmark’s Daniel Agger lets his creative side show through tattoo art. The footballer sports some impressive ink work on his own body, some of which features Norse and Viking imagery - perhaps in ode to his Danish roots. But Agger doesn’t just enjoy getting tattooed on - he is a fully qualified tattoo artist who regularly inks others too.

Drums

Arsenal’s goalkeeper, Petr Čech, has a musical streak. As evidenced by his YouTube videos, Čech is a talented drummer who likes to cover rock songs by bands such as Foo Fighters. It apparently all started when Čech played the PlayStation game ‘Rock Band’ and found he was a natural at the drums.

Soon afterwards he bought an electric kit, and has been improving upon his technique ever since. “It is especially useful for a goalkeeper. There are so many things I learn on the drums that I can use in goalkeeping as well, because the hand-eye co-ordination and the independence on each of the limbs is helpful. It gives you a routine and a new structure to practice,” Cech explained.

Everyone benefits from having at least one side hobby that helps alleviate pressure, but few more so than professional athletes. If you ever feel embarrassed about your stamp collection or flower pressing, just remember that even some of the most talented footballers in the world will occasionally indulge in a game of bingo or put on their baking apron.

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