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7 Athletes Who Didn't Actually Like Their Chosen Sports

7 Athletes Who Didn't Actually Like Their Chosen Sports
By Gary Connaughton
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You would assume that reaching the top level of a professional sport would require massive passion for the game, but that is not always the case.

Many athletes have become wildly successful despite their indifference, or outright hatred, of the game that made them famous. Here are some of the most notable ones.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto

When we discussed writing this article at Balls HQ, the first name that inevitably popped was Benoit Assou-Ekotto. The Cameroonian is perhaps the only player in the world who became more well-known for his indifference towards the game than actually playing it.

He forged a decent career, spending nine years at Spurs (although he was sparingly used for the latter half of that spell) and earning 24 international caps.

He was not shy about expressing the face he was not a football fan, telling The Guardian during an interview in 2010:

Why did I come here? For a job. A career is only 10, 15 years. It's only a job. Yes, it's a good, good job and I don't say that I hate football but it's not my passion.

I arrive in the morning at the training ground at 10.30 and I start to be professional. I finish at one o'clock and I don't play football afterwards. When I am at work, I do my job 100%.

But after, I am like a tourist in London. I have my Oyster card and I take the tube. I eat.

It's grand work if you can get it I suppose.

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Patrick Horgan

While he doesn't quite fall into the category of having no interest in his chosen sport, Cork hurler Patrick Horgan admitted he doesn't really care about what happens in the game outside of his native county.

Speaking to Balls earlier this month, he revealed that he wouldn't be one to sit down watching games of hurling that he himself isn't involved in:

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I'm not interested unless it's something to do with Cork...

Everyone is different but I just find when I'm away from training and hurling I just want to do something else. Call into my mams and play with the nephews. Some fellas love watching it but I don't.

It takes too much out of the day to watch other games when you're only after coming back from training. I'd be a big hurling fan but sometimes you just put so much time into it, you need a break from it. I just do my own thing.

Gabriel Batistuta

One of the most iconic players of the 1990's, Argentine superstar Gabriel Batistuta was not all that interested in football. While he would score an astounding 54 goals in 77 matches for Argentina, he was known to completely avoid the game outside of his professional life.

He once famously said "I do not like football, it is just my profession", but he would find one sport he was very passionate about towards the end of his career.

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In a 2010 interview with FourFourTwo Batistuta waxed lyrical about his real love: polo. Yes, the one with the horses.

Back home in Reconquista, I have a stall for polo horses and my own team called La Gloria Polo Team. We wear purple t-shirts and a badge similar to Fiorentina's, the club where I played for many years. La Gloria has taken part in several competitions and we're growing and establishing ourselves little by little...

I feel some pressure from the supporters when I play polo, because they ask for goals, reflecting my football career. But to be honest, I have no idea of how to do that properly in this sport. The posts don't even have a crossbar!

But I'm just as demanding as I was as a football player – I want to succeed and win.

Andre Agassi

The greatest tennis player of his generation, Andre Agassi hated the sport. He revealed in his 2009 autobiography:

I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have...

He also compared playing tennis to solitary confinement:

In tennis you're on an island. Of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement.

Born in Las Vegas, Agassi was a tennis prodigy at a young age. His father used to cart him around to fancy hotels on the Vegas strip where he would play wealthy businessmen for thousands of dollars at a time. He would often throw the first set, in order to hustle them out of even more money.

The pressure he was placed under by his father is believed to have contributed heavily to his hatred of the sport later in life.

Stephen Ireland

Stephen Ireland may be best remembered for the infamous 'granny gate', but the player has also openly admitted to disliking football in the past.

As we have all done at one stage in our youths, this would be revealed in a regrettable Bebo post in 2007.

Football is shit, why did I get stuck doin it?

While he would never play for Ireland again, he is still technically a professional footballer. His career never reached anywhere near the heights his early form suggested it would however, and he left Bolton after a few months in 2018 without having made an appearance for the club.

Brock Lesnar

You can debate whether or not professional wrestling is actually a sport, but it appears Brock Lesnar is not a fan. Despite being one of the biggest names in the business, he had this to say about the WWE after leaving in 2004:

I felt like I was a trapped animal. I can remember times being on an airplane and wanting to punch the door open and jump out of the plane.

That’s what I felt like… I tell Vince (McMahon) to this day, ‘I was built to be in the ring. I wasn’t built to get from ring to ring.'

Of course, Lesnar would return to the company after a successful spell in the UFC, but his appearances continue to be of a very sporadic nature, suggesting his opinions may not have changed all that much.

Bobby Zamora

Despite being the subject of one of the greatest chants in the history of the game, Bobby Zamora doesn't actually like football. He has not been hesitant to admit that he viewed the sport merely as a job, something that allowed him to use his physical gifts to earn vast amounts of money.

I’m not a massive football fan, really. Quite a lot more players than let on are the same.

I don’t watch games on an evening or anything like that. A lot of people find it strange.

SEE ALSO: Transfer Rumours: Celtic Star To Arsenal, Manchester United Target Bournemouth Midfielder

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