There are so many versatile sportsmen we see in the world today. But what if, someone could play two sports at a pretty high level. It has happened with many a top footballer, that they’ve played cricket, at least at First team level in domestic cricket. Here are 5 of the best known of those footballers who also had a cricketing side to them.
1. Sir Geoff Hurst
Cricket nearly stole English Football of the hero of its 1966 World Cup winning team. Hurst, who scored a hat-trick on that famous day at Wembley against West Germany in ’66, was called in to the First Team of the Essex County Cricket Club, in 1962. Although his first team stint didn’t go too well, Hurst continued on his cricketing journey by playing on with the Essex Second Team. However, in 1964, he decided to hang up his cricketing boots, to focus solely on his football.
How big a sigh of relief would the FA have breathed that he didn’t decide to go on with his cricketing journey?
2. Gary Neville
Neville might have missed a century of caps with the England, but he did score one to guide his club to guide Greenmount to a place in the Bolton League’s Hamer Cup final. Neville batted on that day, with someone who went on to make a slight name for himself in the cricketing world, Matthew Hayden. While Hayden was playing with the club with the aim of getting the Baggy Green, Neville was also an apprentice footballer at Manchester United when he played for Greenmount. He decided to carry on with the Red Devils, and who knows? English cricket’s loss maybe?
3. Phil Neville
Neville Jr. probably had bigger chance of making it big as a cricketer, than his elder brother. When he was 15, he was good enough to play for the Lancashire second XI, and he also captained the England U15 side. Among the ones he captained was a certain Andrew Flintoff. But, like his elder brother, he too decided to plunge into the footballing world, and his career was a pretty successful one, with both Manchester United and Everton. He is presently a part of David Moyes’s coaching staff at Old Trafford.
4. Denis Compton
Denis Compton was a footballer, who played at a stage as high as Arsenal. Arsenal won the league in 1937-38 and in 1947-48, and also the FA Cup in 1950. Compton also played 12 times for England during the Second World War, although none of those games were recognized as official matches. In the middle of this footballing career, Compton was a top class Test cricketer who played 78 Tests for England, and scored 5807 runs at an average of 50.06. Talk about being versatile.
Compton’s grandson, Nick now plays Test cricket for England.
5. Steve Ogrizovic
An Englishman of Serbian descent, Ogrizovic was a goalkeeper who played for Chesterfield, Liverpool and Shrewsbury before becoming a cult hero at Coventry City. During his time at Shrewsbury Town, Ogrizovic played for Shropshire County Cricket Club, and although he played only three games, as a bowler, he has the wicket of the great Sir Vivian Richards in his kitty. Not too bad a batsman to dismiss, eh?
Ogrizovic is currently the goalkeeping coach at Coventry City.