Footballers dedicate countless years of their lives to being the best they can be at the beautiful game. Most people would be satisfied with being an elite athlete, but many players also find the time to pursue other passions and develop other skills.
From talented musicians to competitive video gamers, read on to learn about the hidden talents of some of football’s most recognisable names.
Andriy Arshavin has a degree in fashion design
Former Arsenal player Andriy Arshavin has perhaps the most unexpected hidden talent on this list. The Russia international has a degree in fashion design.
Before starting his professional career, Arshavin enrolled to study at St Petersburg University of Technology and Design. Initially, Arshavin studied in the chemical technology department, but when he started playing for Zenit St Petersburg, training duties meant he had less time for his studies, so he switched to the fashion design department.
As quoted in the Daily Mail, Arshavin said: “When I began training with Zenit St Petersburg I had to miss a lot of classes. I transferred to the clothes design department. I have designed several garments myself.”
The player has even designed a suit, which can be worn both for formal occasions and for playing sports.
Romelu Lukaku can speak 8 languages
It is common for players to pick up new languages when they play overseas. If a player plays in more than one country over the course of their career, they may even learn two or three. However, not many players can match the linguistic abilities of Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku who can speak an incredible eight languages.
Attention was first brought to this impressive feat in 2021 when journalists covering the Champion’s League were sent a table of languages that players could speak. Lukaku could speak so many languages that they would not all fit in the box they were written in.
The full list of languages Lukaku can speak is French, German, Dutch, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Flemish.
When asked why he has learnt so many languages by ESPN, the goal scorer said: “It’s important for me to express myself to my teammates, it is important for me as a player that they understand me perfectly. How I want the ball. Where I want the ball. In front of the defender, beside the defender, behind the defender. I have to know those exact words […] because the subtleties are different in every language.”
Manuel Akanji is a maths wizard
Manchester City’s Swiss defender Manuel Akanji can perform mental arithmetic at lightning-fast speeds. This hidden talent was first showcased when Akanji was playing for Borussia Dortmund. He appeared on a German TV show and raced a presenter with a calculator to perform sums – Akanji won every time.
He also interviewed with Sky Sports in 2022 where he performed calculations with numbers associated with Manchester City.
Akanji says that his uncanny maths abilities come from his childhood when his teacher would run competitions in class. Students would compete in mental maths puzzles and Akanji would normally win.
Diogo Jota is phenomenal at football video games
Portuguese international and Liverpool forward Diogo Jota is not only good at football in real life – he is also gifted at the game in virtual form.
It is no secret that a lot of players are fans of the FIFA video game series (now FC 24). However, not many players – if any – can claim to be as good at the game as Jota.
Before joining Liverpool, he won the FIFA 20 ePremier League Invitational, beating his soon-to-be teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final. Fast forward an edition of FIFA and, as reported by Euro Gamer, at one point Jota was ranked world number one at FIFA 2021.
Then, within 24 hours of the FIFA 23 Web App being released, the player had built the sixth highest-rated squad in the world.
Eric Cantona has a beautiful singing voice
Not only was Manchester United legend Eric Cantona a phenomenal footballer, but the French ex-forward is also a talented singer, actor, and film producer.
He recently released the four track EP I’ll Make My Own Heaven which features the gorgeous ‘The Friends We Lost’, and played a number of sold-out dates across the UK and Europe.
Not only is Cantona a gifted musician, but he is also an able actor, director, and producer. The multi-talented Cantona’s IMDb boasts 47 acting, three directing, and three producing credits.
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