Plenty of footballers have tried their hand at acting over the years but how many actors could have made it as footballers. With Oscar season upon us, we pick out five.
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Sir Sean Connery
Having once been offered a trial by Scottish side East Fife, Connery was on tour performing South Pacific when he got involved in a kickabout against a local team. A certain Sir Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United, was in the crowd and was so impressed that he offered the 23-year-old a contract there and then. Connery declined, however, reasoning that acting had better long-term prospects. After he made his breakthrough as James Bond, that looked a wise decision.
A polymath who put the multi into talented. Singer, actor and flautist, Loiri won Finnish championships in water polo and handball before being signed by HJK Helsinki in 1971, aged 26. A goalkeeper, he featured in one cup tie before giving up to focus on acting and is famous in his country for the role of Uuno Turhapuro, whom he played in 20 movies.
Hanzon is a well-known Swedish actor who worked under the celebrated Ingmar Bergman on stage and screen. Yet in his younger days his football prospects were just as bright. He represented Sweden at youth level and made his top-flight debut for Djurgården aged 17. A defender, he had 20 senior appearances under his belt before quitting a year later to travel the world. When he returned, he pursued acting.
Deutsch has made his name as an actor and writer, but his first love was football. He was in the same Nantes academy that produced Didier Deschamps and Christian Karembeu, around the same time as Marcel Desailly. "In terms of physique I was not in line with what was then the club's policy," he admitted. Rather than seek a new club, he switched to the stage.
Best known for his four-year tenure in the title role of Doctor Who, Smith figured in the youth teams of Northampton Town and Nottingham Forest and was approached for a trial by Leicester City. A back injury stopped his career short at 16, though, and he was persuaded to try acting.
Have we missed anyone? Let us know below.