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Footballers turned actors: Kimmich latest in long line

Joshua Kimmich made his acting debut on Sunday in German show Tatort – the Bayern midfielder is far from the first player to have graced our movie screens and television sets.

Former France and Manchester United playmaker Eric Cantona
Former France and Manchester United playmaker Eric Cantona ©Getty Images

Joshua Kimmich made his primetime acting debut in Germany on Sunday evening, playing a monosyllabic fitness trainer in crime TV show Tatort.

The Bayern midfielder is far from the first footballer to have trodden the boards, with varying degrees of success. Make your way down the red carpet as we celebrate the good, the bad and the ugly.

David Beckham 

Injury deprived him of a cameo in 2002's Bend it like Beckham, but Becks had his acting day. He appeared as himself in all three Goal movies before a speaking role in iconic British sitcom Only Fools and Horses. Asked if he would be taking up acting full time, he admitted he was a bit "too stiff". He is not being modest.

Paul Breitner 

The former Bayern and Germany star had two film roles separated by a decade. His first was the more eye-catching, playing a bandit-hunting soldier named Sergeant Stark in a Spaghetti Western titled Potato Fritz (1976). Though his hair was majestic, he was as lost as we were amid a confusing plot. At least he sounded OK – all his lines were redubbed after filming.

Paul Breitner and Kevin Keegan discuss how the German negotiated a cowboy hat
Paul Breitner and Kevin Keegan discuss how the German negotiated a cowboy hat©Getty Images

Giorgi Loria 

Georgia national-team goalkeeper Loria starred as himself in What Happened in Kiev (2013), a remake of The Hangover. He and three friends get worse for wear during a ski trip and wake up in Kyiv minus the keeper on the day of a big match against Spain. Calamity ensues as they search for Giorgi, son of late actor Nugzar Loria. They find him in a suitcase.

Kevin O'Callaghan 

If Pelé, Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, Søren Lindsted, Paul Van Himst, John Wark, Werner Roth, Mike Summerbee, Hallvar Thoresen and Co Prins featured in Escape to Victory (1981), O'Callaghan eclipsed them all. A Republic of Ireland winger, he was the keeper who needed his arm broken to allow Sylvester Stallone to play. "Make it a clean break, guv," he told Michael Caine. Like the bone break, O'Callaghan's performance was short but sweet.

A still from Escape to Victory - spot the non-footballer
A still from Escape to Victory - spot the non-footballer©Getty Images

Dragoslav Šekularac 

Šekularac played himself in 1962 musical comedy Šeki is Filming, Watch Yourself. Now a kitsch classic, at the time it was deemed so bad that its director, Marijan Vajda, was expelled from the Yugoslav national film guild. Šekularac did not sing but deserves extra credit because in 1962 he also played a bit of football, inspiring Yugoslavia to the World Cup semis.

Ally McCoist 

Former Scotland and Rangers forward McCoist appears in A Shot at Glory (2000) as Jackie McQuillan, a footballer recruited from Arsenal by a second-tier Scottish side owned by Michael Keaton. No stranger to the camera, McCoist warms to the role and his efforts are certainly more credible than manager Robert Duvall's Scottish accent.

Ally McCoist: a bubbly presence on (football) stage and (cinema) screen
Ally McCoist: a bubbly presence on (football) stage and (cinema) screen©Getty Images

Zinédine Zidane 

Most on this list are egregious and outgoing; not so Zidane. Yet the mercurial Frenchman was not hampered by shyness during his turn in 2008's Asterix at the Olympic Games. The former Real Madrid boss played Numerodis (Number 10), an Egyptian who tests out a new round object. His full head of hair takes some getting used to.

Åke Lindman 

Lindman looked like a film star, acted like a film star ... was a film star. Football came first, though. A teak-tough defender, he won two Finnish titles and 26 caps during a notable career, figuring at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. He was more famous as an actor, however, acting and directing on small screen and big.

Vinnie Jones 

Tough guy on the pitch, tough guy off it. A labourer while a semi-professional at the start of his career with Wealdstone, former Wales midfielder Jones switched to acting after hanging up his boots and has not looked back since making his debut in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Well, there was his role as Juggernaut in X-Men: The Last Stand, but nobody came out of that well. Let us instead give credit for his scene-stealing turn as Bullet Tooth Tony in Snatch (2000) and of course his football-related roles in Mean Machine (jailed ex-England captain), EuroTrip (hooligan) and She's the Man (school coach).

Vinnie Jones (C) at the premiere of Snatch
Vinnie Jones (C) at the premiere of Snatch©Getty Images

Sweden, 1974 

The entire Sweden team appeared in Fimpen (1974), the tale of a six-year-old's rise to soccer stardom. In one memorable scene, the players take turns reading him bedtime stories although only Ove Kindvall and Ronnie Hellström succeed in falling asleep. Coach Georg Ericson was the unlikely star, a surprising natural in front of the camera.

Eric Cantona 

Seagull-hating Cantona was an enigmatic football hero, an unpredictable figure whose very presence inspired wonderment. That aura has quite naturally transferred to the big screen. Since debuting in the Oscar-winning Elizabeth (1998), Cantona has had parts in nearly 30 movies and even played a version of himself in Ken Loach's eponymous Looking for Eric.

All hail, King Eric!
All hail, King Eric!©Getty Images

Vlasta Burian 

One of the finest Czech comedians and actors, Burian was Sparta Praha goalkeeper for eight years in the 1910s and 1920s. He reputedly lost his job in the theatre at one point when a cup game went to extra time, meaning he missed his performance. He did find a balance between his two loves, though, and went on to work as a goalkeeping coach alongside his onstage exploits.