World of Sport

What happened next: Football’s strangest career changes

World of Sport

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It is often said of footballers that their careers are short and once their playing days are over the adjustment to the real world can be a difficult one.

Coaching, media work or after-dinner speaking are tried and tested routes for football's retirees - but why not be a bit more adventurous?

Inspired by the news that Turkey's 2002 World Cup star Ilhan Mansiz has decided to target representing his country at the Winter Olympics as an ice-skater, we thought we would take a look at some of the more unusual career paths that professional footballers have followed.

1. Vinnie Jones

Then: A member of Wimbledon's Crazy Gang who won the 1988 FA Cup Final and repeatedly defied the top flight's biggest names to stay in the Premier League. Jones built a fearsome reputation as one of the toughest players of his era.

After football: Jones was cast in the 1998 Guy Ritchie film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and went on to star as a hard man in several big pictures, from Snatch to X-Men: The Last Stand.

2. Neil Webb

Then: Webb played under two of the finest managers in history, making his name as a regular with Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest in the 1980s and securing himself a £1.5m move to Manchester United where Alex Ferguson was busy trying to forge a winning team. The tidy midfielder quietly amassed 26 England caps and was in the squad for the 1990 World Cup.

After football: Webb attracted attention in 2004 when it emerged he had become a postman. As he explained to the Observer in an interview at the time: "My wife's brother has been at the Post Office since he left school. I asked about the hours and it did not sound too bad. So I applied for a job.

"When I first started there, people would say, 'What are you doing? You played for England and earned a lot of money.' I said, 'Yeah, and it isn't going to last me till I'm 65. Work it out - mortgage, car, kids and tax.' People just don't understand."

3. Ray Wilson

Then: Wilson played 63 times for England, including one rather important afternoon at Wembley in 1966 when the nation won its only World Cup. The left-back spent the majority of his career at Huddersfield and Everton.

After football: A ten game spell as interim boss of Bradford in 1971 did not work out, and Wilson went from caretaker to undertaker. His business thrived in the Huddersfield area and he continued until his retirement in 1997.

4. Arjan de Zeeuw

Then: An uncompromising Dutch defender who made England his home. De Zeeuw joined Barnsley in 1995 aged 25 - and spells at Wigan twice, Portsmouth and Coventry followed.

After football: De Zeeuw did not play professional football until the age of 22 because he had been studying medical science. Using those skills upon his retirement, De Zeeuw returned to the Netherlands and took a job with the regional police as an investigative detective.

5. Gavin Peacock

Then: An often under-rated midfielder with a knack for crucial goals who had lengthy stays at Newcastle United, Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers during the 1990s.

After football: Peacock looked to be bedding in as a media pundit until he decided he could not ignore the call of his faith. A lifelong Christian, Peacock completed his commentary obligations for Euro 2008 before departing to Canada to study Divinity at Ambrose Seminary, with the intention of going into the priesthood.

6. Leighton James

Then: Tore down the wing for Burnley, Swansea and Wales in a 20-year career in professional football.

After football: Took a job as a lollipop man at a school outside Swansea - and so good a stopper of traffic and facilitator of children crossing roads safely was he that he went on to be recognised as Swansea Council's Rookie Lollipop Man of the Year in 2007.

7. Jim Whitley

Then: The Northern Irishman from Zambia is less well known than his brother Jeff, but still managed to pick up three international caps and turn out for Manchester City before a spell at Wrexham.

After football: An avid musician in his youth, Whitley found himself portraying first Nat King Cole and then Sammy Davis Jr in tribute bands.

8. David May

Then: Despite being plagued by injuries, defender May won two Premier League and two FA Cups with Manchester United and was on the bench when United won the Champions League final in 1999.

After football: May founded a partnership with a South African friend and started importing wine to the UK.

"New clients can be surprised that I'm now involved in wine," he says, "but I've yet to meet an irate Leeds or Liverpool fan who doesn't want to do business."

9. Rob Jones

Then: Jones was a key part of the Liverpool side in the 1990s, representing the Reds for eight years. The right-back also played on eight occasions for England. Injury stalled his career and forced a premature retirement at the age of 27.

After football: Together with his wife, Jones has been running a chain of nursery schools in Warrington for several years.

10. David Icke

Then: Arthritis scuppered what might have been a promising career as a goalkeeper. Icke played for Coventry, Oxford United, Northampton Town and Hereford United before being forced to retire in 1971 aged just 21.

After football: Icke's career after football might best be described as colourful. It included spells as a television broadcaster and a Green Party spokesman before an infamous interview with Terry Wogan in which he claimed to be the son of God and a series of books detailing amongst other things: a conspiracy theory in which he believes that many of the world's most influential people are reptilian humanoids. Well, quite.

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