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Nicky Byrne And 10 Other 'Could Have Been A Footballer' Celebrities

Nicky Byrne And 10 Other 'Could Have Been A Footballer' Celebrities
By Eugene Fogarty
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Picture credit; Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE *EDI*

Today, Westlife's Nicky Byrne celebrates his 35th birthday, and to mark the occasion we have put together 11 notable athletes, famous faces and celebrities that could have potentially made it professional footballers, in no discernible order.

1. Nicky Byrne

We start with the man himself. Byrne playing in goal for Leeds as an apprentice for two years. He was part of their 1997 FA Youth Cup winning squad but was released that summer for being too short.

Subsequently, the Dubliner played in a reserve game for Scarborough F.C., had a trial with Cambridge and joined Dublin club Shelbourne. He then signed for Cobh Ramblers playing 11 games and later St. Francis F.C. before going on to international superstardom.


2. Pope John Paul II

No 'could have been a footballer' list is complete without Karol Jozef Woytyla. Before moving to Rome, JP2 played in goal for his home town side in Wadowice, Poland. The future Pontiff was known for his strong build and also featured between the sticks for his university side in Krakow.

For a country renowned for producing goalkeepers, the future saint seems to have a reputation as Poland's greatest 'keeper.

3. Michael Schumacher

Schumacher has appeared in several football charity games and organised games between fellow Formula One drivers but as well as that, Schumi plays football for his local team FC Echichens in Switzerland.

FC Echichens is a football club, currently in 2nd tier of the Swiss Football League. Additionally, Schumacher is believed to be a fan of FC Köln and Newcastle United.


4. Sean Connery

Connery was handed a license to thrill Old Trafford, but the future James Bond turned down Matt Busby's offer to join the Red Devils when he was on tour with the musical South Pacific. Already in his early 20s, Connery was talked out of pursuing the £25 a week deal to concentrate on his acting career, and he never looked back, all the while maintaining a keen interest in sport.

5. Steve Waugh

The record breaking, former Australian cricket captain, Waugh, played for New South Wales and, along with his twin Mark, signed for Sydney Croatia, where they played for a brief spell before concentrating on the bat-and-ball full time.

Sydney Croatia are now simply known as the more consumer friendly Sydney United F.C., much to do with the violence that used to be associated with ethnically supported football clubs in Australia.

6. Rod Stewart

The British singer-songwriter signed apprentice papers with Brentford when he was a teenager. However, the Celtic fan found the daily ritual of cleaning first team players' boots a grind and jacked it in after a few months, later becoming a grave digger before moving on to slightly bigger things.

7. Luciano Pavarotti

The lifelong Juventus fan played in goal for his local junior side in Modena and was given a trial by the seniors, who apparently stuck the future world-renowned tenor out on the wing, which probably wasn't the ideal place to get the best out of him.

He was a pretty good commentator though...

8. Simen Agdestein

The Norwegian chess grandmaster clocked up the unusual feat of representing his country in both football and chess. Agdenstein turned out for Lyn Oslo (of John Obi Mikel fame) and forced his way into the Norwegian national side before a cruciate ligament injury curtailed his fledging career in 1991.

By that stage Agdestin had already became a Grandmaster at 18, had won his first national title at 15 and went on to win seven Norwegian chess championships.

9. Graham Geraghty

The Fine Gael man travelled to London for trials with Arsenal as a teenager, but ultimately signed for Bohemians in September 1994. Geraghty also played for Drogheda United reserves during the 1996-97 League of Ireland season.


Eventually the Meath forward would go on to gain fame winning All-Irelands in 1996 and 1999, and getting beaten up by some Aussies.


10. Micky Sheehy

Kerry's Sheehy was a talented footballer in his youth. He was offered trials with Southampton in the early 70s, and they gave him a list of fixtures for the reserve team and told him to travel for any game he wanted in order to have a trial. There was only one snag however, he would have to pay his own way.


Sheehy didn't think that was the way to do things so he turned down the offer. Sheehy played for St. Brendan's Park F.C. in Tralee instead, and went on to win eight All-Ireland titles to make up for it.

11. Niels Bohr

The Nobel Prize winning physicist was a passionate footballer, and played a number of matches for the Copenhagen-based Akademisk Boldklub, as goalkeeper. AB, as they are known, is a Danish professional football club from Gladsaxe, north of Copenhagen, currently playing at the second highest level in Danish domestic football.

The Dane made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received his Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922.

So there you have it, eleven renowned names and faces that ultimately traded in careers in football for bigger things. It just leaves one question though...why are so many of these people goalkeepers.

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