Being a professional footballer in this day and age, in any day and age in fact, takes a huge amount of dedication both physically and mentally.
Footballers are some of the most conditioned and physically fit athletes in the world, but what happens after a player retires and the goal of playing in front of thousands of fans is no longer there? What happens when you have no schedule to make you keep fit? The fat can pile on just like it does for many of us!
Well while some ex-players keep themselves in prime physical condition, others, shall we say, let themselves go. Here are seven footballers who let themselves go after they retired!
In his prime, the original Ronaldo, the Brazilian Ronaldo, was one of the most complete forwards in football history. As one of the few players to play for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, not to mention his spell at Inter Milan in the 90s, when Italian football was the undisputed king of the game, again that Ronaldo’s résumé speaks for itself.
But warning signs first appeared at the 2006 World Cup when Brazil were the defending champions. Though Brazil still had an extremely fearsome side, and probably the best side in the tournament, and though Ronaldo still contributed with goals at the finals, he was jeered by the fans for being noticeably overweight and slow. Though the skill was still there, he was behind the pace for every moment of the games, and it was obvious that his weight was becoming an issue. But he went to the finals because he’s Ronaldo. He had to go.
Since he moved on from Real Madrid to A.C Milan before eventually retiring in Brazil with Corinthians, he piled on the pounds and rarely shed them.
Make no mistake, he is a legend of the game, and in his day he was the best player in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that just like everyone else on this list, he couldn’t help but let himself go in retirement.
6. Neville Southall
Neville Southall is a legend at Everton and justifiably so; he was the working man’s footballer, the local hero, the everyman. However, to give him these titles alone would be to take away from his skills as a goalkeeper, as he defied his, shall we say, generous frame and played at the highest level for many years at Goodison.
There was a time when Southall was lean and mean, but that time didn’t last long. Regardless of this, however, he was a supremely agile keeper remembered as one of the finest shot-stoppers of his generation. Not only this, but he also holds the record of 92 caps for Wales. He was a player who took goalkeeping as seriously as an artist would his craft, reading books about golf and boxing to pick up tips for improving his balance.
In his later years, I think Neville would be the first person to say that he’s let himself go a bit, but let that never take away from the fact that he is one of the best goalkeepers ever.
5. Jan Molby
Jan Molby played for Liverpool for 12 years after arriving from his first club Kolding. While at Liverpool, he played 218 times and scored 44 goals from midfield. Before enjoying a successful spell at Liverpool from 1984 to 1996, he moved on to Ajax and played primarily as a central defender.
He also represented Denmark at all age levels and earned 33 caps for the senior team between 1982 and 1990.
However, as good as he was as a player, he never got a handle on fitness. Case in point, when opposition fans would chant “Who ate all the pies?” too.
Doing time in the late 80s for drink-driving also suggested that he liked a shandy or too, which may not have helped his weight issues. These days, he looks more generously proportioned than ever without the game to keep him somewhat in check.
4. Tomas Brolin
Swede Tomas Brolin enjoyed success early in his career with Italian side A.C Parma, winning the 1992 Coppa Italia, the 1993 Cup Winners’ Cup, the 1993 UEFA Super Cup and the 1995 UEFA Cup. He also represented his native Sweden on 47 occasions, scoring 27 goals. At international level, he found similar success, as he was part of the Sweden teams that finished third in the 1994 World Cup and were beaten semi-finalists in the 1992 European Championship. However, after signing for Leeds, his fortunes took a serious nose-dive when he came to England.
Initially performing well and a fan favourite dubbed “The Baby-Faced Assassin” by Leeds fans, everything seemed to be going well. But injuries and being played out of position significantly dropped the standard of his performances. In the end, he was loaned out several times, and after many injury issues, he retired at 28. In 2007, he was voted number 2 in The Times poll of the “50 Worst footballers (to grace the Premier League).” Even while he was playing, his weight issues were obvious, but after his career ended, boy, oh boy did he go on a journey. He ballooned up so that he was barely recognisable from his younger days, and not only did he let himself go, he went on to try his hand at every job under the sun.
He did everything from poker player to real estate owner to dance music contributor to restaurant owner.
3. Jamie Pollock
Jamie Pollock may be remembered by Manchester City fans for scoring the bizarre own goal for against (or should I say for?) QPR condemned the pre-moneyed Sky Blues to the third tier of the English game for the first time in their history. It may be cruel, but it is funny what QPR fans had to say about their own goal that saved their collective bacon – according to ESPN, a group of QPR fans thanked him by voting him the “most influential man of the past 2,000 years” in an internet poll, where “Jesus came second.”
From there, he moved to Crystal Palace and then on loan to Birmingham City before finally calling it a day on his career after being unable to find a club since he left Palace by mutual consent. Unlike many other players on this list, there didn’t seem to be much of a hint of the future that was in store for Pollock, but today, I think it’s fair to say that he’s not watching his calories as closely as he should be.
He was pictured around that time at a casual football game with fellow ex-pros, and the picture was not all that flattering if I’m honest. For Pollock, this is a case of a player not getting much chance to keep fit after retirement.
2. Neil Shipperley
Neil Shipperley is remembered by Crystal Palace fans for the goal he scored in the play-off final for the Eagles that propelled them into the Premier League. After coming through the Chelsea ranks as a youth player, he played for the senior team from 1992 to 1995 before journeying through the English leagues, playing for teams such as Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, and Wimbledon.
After retiring, he began his career as a manager and took jobs for teams in the lower, lower leagues, including Walton Casuals and North Greenford United. No, I haven’t heard of them either. And while he was managing the Walton Casuals in the semi-pro Isthmian South Division, he also undertook his “knowledge” tests to become a taxi driver.
1. Winston Bogarde
At one time Winston Bogarde was on top of the world, as he won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and won to league titles with Barcelona after that. But being on top of his profession wasn’t enough for old Winston; he had to let everyone know how much of an OG he was.
He is one of football’s most interesting characters because if you think modern footballers flash their cash around too much, you should get a load of this guy. From wearing so much gold Mr T would think it looked gaudy to buying a home on the outskirts of Amsterdam with, yes, a ‘party basement’, Bogarde lived the life of a footballer to a tee, but there was just one problem: after a while, he didn’t care about the game. And his weight gain reflected that. After he signed for free at Chelsea in 2000 and had a contract worth £10 million over four years, he consistently declined until he was arriving at training overweight and without a care in the world for succeeding at Chelsea.
These days, he’s blown all his money and had his huge house in Amsterdam repossessed, but he still has enough money for the groceries. He played at Edwin Van der Saar’s testimonial, and let’s say, he wasn’t in ‘ring-shape’.