While taking a dive convincingly on the football pitch takes a certain amount of acting skill, there have been a few actors who have given a shot at some real acting before the camera. In the list below we take a look at a few footballers who have dabbled in movies.
A true football celebrity if there ever was one, the former English Footballer has enjoyed much success on and off the field. He’s tied the knot with a former Spice Girl, been living in Los Angeles, been a UN goodwill ambassador, professional model and is buddies with the cream of Hollywood, what else could be a feather in his cap? An acting career maybe? While he’s never given it a serious shot, Becks has appeared as himself in all three ‘Goal’ movies with more to do on screen than just kicking the ball. He also recently appeared in a special episode of the British comedy sitcom, ‘Only Fools and Horses’, taking a pot-shot at his modelling career. When asked if he’d be taking up acting as a full time profession, he replied in the negative, describing himself as being “too stiff”. I concur with that.
Perhaps the most recognisable footballer on the face of the planet, it’s only but natural that the Brazilian hero would have made at least a few appearances in front of the camera. Well it turns out he’s actually starred in nearly half a dozen projects including television serials. There’s the famous ‘Escape to Victory / Victory’ (1981) with his glorious bicycle kick shown in slow-motion and him teaching Michael Caine a thing or two about on field tactics. And he can also be seen in ‘A Minor Miracle’ (1983) where he helps a bunch of orphans trying to save their home while in the ‘Hotshot’ (1987) an American soccer player trying to make it big turns to Pele for inspiration and guidance.
Collymore’s no stranger to courting controversy in the media with his antics off the field. This former English footballer’s has a long rap-sheet filled with violence against women; so call it coincidence that the movie where he gave acting a shot was none other than the ill-fated sequel to Basic Instinct that had sexual violence as one of its major themes. Of all the things he could be cast as, he played a footballer, though there was no on-field action here and was dispatched pretty quickly in the opening few minutes of the movie, while engaging in sexual hijinks in a speeding car. Don’t know if it was his lack of ambition or the movie itself, but Collymore never gave professional acting a shot again.
Ian Wright has enjoyed much success on the pitch for the English national team and for clubs like Arsenal and West Ham United; post which he’s had quite a prolific career as a television and radio presenter putting him square in the limelight. So when he signed on for 2011’s, ‘Sun of the Black Gun’ it was not exactly as unusual move but the movie sure was. It’s about a fabled Luger gun in Romania linked to Neo-Nazis and dragons; Wright plays a Brit Gangster. Many reviewers have called him the best thing about the otherwise pathetic film. What made him sign on for the film is beyond comprehension, watch the trailer below and decide for yourself.
Paul Breitner holds the record as one of only four players to have scored in two different World Cup final matches, the others being Pelé, Vavá and Zinédine Zidane. Despite his at times controversial behaviour on-field for West Germany and Bayern Munich, he’s regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever and was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team in 1994. But not many would know that he’s also starred in not one but two action adventure films, with one being a German language western. In the 1976 spaghetti-western ‘Potato Fritz’ he played a frontier soldier helping Hardy Kruger’s ranger plant potatoes and in 1986 he starred in the action-adventure, Kunyonga - Mord in Afrika. Neither of the movies came close to replicating any sort of success Breitner enjoyed on the soccer field.
Former Italian midfielder and current Real Madrid coach flirted with a side career in acting during the 1980s. The 1983, Italian comedy, The World of Don Camillo, was about a priest who coaches the town’s football team in a match an “evil” team aptly named the “Devils”. Ancelotti played a footballer on the “Devils” who has more than a handful of nasty tricks up his sleeve that are ignored by the corrupt referee. Actor Terrence Hill famous for his spaghetti-westerns directed and starred alongside Ancelotti.
He’s ranked fifth on the Scottish top tier league's all time highest goal scorer list, currently coaches the ‘Rangers’ and was also inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. But there’s a little movie from 2000 that’s Ally McCoist would probably like to purge from his memory and otherwise impressive resume; ‘A Shot at Glory’. McCoist played a high-flying footballer from Arsenal who recruited by a second-tier Scottish club, managed by Robert Duvall and owned by Michael Keaton. Duvall and McCoist clash over how the club should be run and how the game should be played, but over the period of the film, the warmth of the small town wins him over and he leads the club to great success, thwarting plans of Keaton to move the club to Dublin. Duvall had a horrible Scottish accent and let’s just say McCoist’s soccer skills outweigh his acting skills.
When he played for Manchester United, they he won four Premier League titles in a period of five years and two League and FA Cup Doubles. French legend, Eric Cantona has long retired but he’s made quite a successful jump to a full time acting career. Starting off with Shekar Kapur’s Oscar winning, ‘Elizabeth’ (1998) he’s already acted in over two dozen movies, most of them French. He’s even played a version of himself in the whimsical yet endearing movie, ‘Looking for Eric’ (2009). His latest movie is the upcoming Western, ‘The Salvation’ starring Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green.
Jones has perhaps been the most successful in making the transition from professional Footballer to professional actor. The Welsh midfielder has had over 350 premiere league appearances for clubs like Chelsea and Leeds United with middling success. However when he made his acting debut with Guy Ritchie’s Brit Gangster flick, ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ (1998), he’s never had to look back. He usually plays tough guys which is kind of reflective of his on-field persona as a brawler. He had much success with ‘Snatch’ where he played the invincible Bullet Tooth Tony with an amazing monologue in a bar and later played a disgraced footballer in ‘Mean Machine’ but his moment of great infamy came thanks to his appearance as the Juggernaut in the much vilified ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’. Check out the hilarious short below where, Jones teaches you how to perform CPR to the tune of ABBA’s ‘Staying Alive’.