Ex-Celtic and Birmingham star is now getting people drunk with a fine spirit

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

In the world of football, Oliver Tebily is a name that conjures memories of robust defending and crunching tackles. Yet, beyond the football pitch, this former Celtic and Birmingham City star has embarked on a journey that has taken him from the roar of the crowd to the quiet serenity of vineyards, becoming a world-renowned cognac maker along the way.

Tébily, hailing from Ivory Coast, earned 18 international caps while playing in top leagues across four countries. He graced the fields of Ligue 1 with Châteauroux and contributed to Celtic’s success in the SPL. He also played in the English Premier League with Birmingham City, and ventured into Major League Soccer with Toronto FC.

The Unexpected Transformation: From Footballer to Cognac Maestro

While many former footballers find their post-retirement calling within the sport, Oliver Tebily followed a unique path. He shifted focus from football to his long-held passion: crafting cognac, which had quietly brewed inside him for years.

As a footballer, Tebily recognised the fickle nature of his career. Injury or retirement could arrive at any time, and he was determined to secure his future. In his late teens, upon signing his first professional contract, he purchased two hectares of land in the south-western French village of Salles-d’Angles. This investment, stemming from his days of working the land for pocket money during his youth, was his insurance policy against the uncertainties of a football career.

Oliver Tebily at Celtic
Tebily spent 3 years at Celtic

His journey began in 1993 with Niort, a second-tier French side. It took him through Chateauroux and Sheffield United, culminating in a Scottish treble with Celtic in 2001 and four-years with Birmingham City. A brief stint in Canada with Toronto FC was cut short due to injury, prompting his return to the vineyards.

However, acquiring land in the prestigious Cognac region proved challenging. The land was scarce and costly, leaving Tebily with a problem. His fortunes took an unexpected turn when a neighbouring Cognac farmer decided to sell his business. The twist lay in the fact that the farmer’s late son had been Tebily’s friend, and their shared connection led to Tebily becoming the proud owner of 2 hectares in prime Cognac territory.

Cognac OT: Tebily’s Liquid Legacy

With the acquisition of this land came a distillery, a crucial element in the Cognac-making process. Tebily, though still learning the intricacies, had a mentor in the retired Jean-Michel Lepine. Nowadays, you can find Tebily in his vineyard, donning a Birmingham City fleece as he tends to his grapes, ensuring the product’s quality.

Tebily produces Cognac at a price of £135 per bottle.

The transition from a formidable defender to a Cognac producer might seem incongruous, but it’s a testament to Tebily’s dedication. His Cognac, aptly named Cognac OT, has already graced the shelves, with prices ranging from around £48 to approximately £135. This liquid legacy represents not just a business venture but a lifelong dream realized.

Tebily’s journey, which began as a precautionary measure in his youth, has evolved into a passion-driven pursuit. He may have sold 90% of his produce to larger companies, but he aims to trade exclusively with Africa.

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