x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

From sports idols to a postman and chimney sweep

A look at life after retirement for four outstanding footballers.

Neil Webb. Peter Robinson / Empics Sports
Neil Webb. Peter Robinson / Empics Sports

Mike England Tottenham Hotspur, Retirement homes

When Harry Redknapp arrived at White Hart Lane a little over two years ago, he went through a phase of re-signing former Spurs players, like Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane.

Some wondered where it would stop, and wondered if they would witness the return of Glenn Hoddle and Jimmy Greaves. One player Redknapp would never have persuaded to come back was England, one of Britain's greatest centre-backs who played for Spurs in the late 1960s and 70s.

Retirement has left him perfectly fulfilled. After managing his national team for eight years, the kindly England slipped out of the spotlight and went to run two homes for senior citizens with his wife in his native Wales.

 

Neil Webb Manchester United, Postman

After becoming Reading's youngest goalscorer a month past his 17th birthday, Webb went on to play for Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, and won 26 caps for England.

The only time he made the front page of the newspapers came in retirement, however, when The Sun revealed in 2002 that a player once regarded as England's finest was working as a postman.

Webb's playing days had closed just before the Premier League wages boom, and he has never been shy of working for a living. He even served as a programme-seller on match-days at Reading, his boyhood club.

 

Gavin Peacock Chelsea, Minister

Peacock, the former Newcastle, QPR and Chelsea midfielder, was one of the more lucid of the recent raft of player-turned-media pundits. However, just as the Match of the Day sofa beckoned, the ex-Blues captain followed a new path.

In 2008, he moved with his family to Canada, where he is studying theology with a view to becoming a preacher.

"I joked with my classmates once that I had played in front of 100,000 people in a Cup final at Wembley but I was more nervous about my Hebrew vocabulary test," he said in an interview with an English newspaper last month.

 

Roar Strand Rosenborg, Chimney sweep

Strand, one of the most highly decorated players in all of football, only recently pulled the curtain on his 21-year professional career.

However, he already had a trade to fall back on. When Nils Arne Eggen, the puritanical coach, was in charge of Norway's leading club, Rosenborg, he encouraged his players to take up second jobs to make sure they retained a perspective on life.

Strand's trade of choice was that of a chimney sweep. Having won 15 league championship titles over the course of his career, he probably wanted to be sure no soot was going to tarnish his medals when he hung them on the mantlepiece.