Like most athletes, footballers typically retire from playing professionally when they reach their mid-thirties. The average age that a footballer hangs up their boots is 35 years old, and that’s after having a professional career lasting around 8 years.
Of course, some footballers play for much longer than this. For example, Artur Boruc, who plays for AFC Bournemouth turned 40 earlier this year, and Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero is now 38.
Even if these players give up playing after the average retirement age, they still have decades ahead of them. Many continue to play other sports like poker, start businesses, and find other work in football. Here are some of those players.
Teddy Sheringham is well known in English football, having played for Spurs, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, and Manchester United. During his career in football, he became one of the highest ever scoring players in the Premier League. After winning three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League with the Red Devils, he carried on playing for other teams, before hanging up his boots in 2008.
Shortly afterwards, Sheringham returned to competitive sport by taking part in live poker games. He mostly played in no-limit Texas Holdem games, racking up almost €300,000 in winnings.
Since then, Sheringham has returned to football. In 2014, he returned to West Ham to work as an attacking coach. The following year, he moved to Stevenage but was sacked after less than 12 months. He suffered a similar fate when he moved to Kolkata to coach the Indian Super League side ATK, where he only won three games from ten.
Not to be confused with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima began his career back in 1993, playing for Cruzeiro in his native Brazil. A year later, he made his way to Europe, playing first for PSV, then Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and AC Milan. In 2009, after 14 years of playing for the top European clubs, he moved back to Brazil where he played for Corinthians until 2011.
Like Sheringham, Ronaldo is a keen poker player that took part in several major Texas Holdem tournaments across Europe. He hasn’t been playing professionally for several years though, most likely because he’s been busy with other business ventures.
In 2018, Ronaldo bought a 51% stake in the La Liga club Real Valladolid at a cost of around €30 million. He’s also continued to work as an ambassador for Nike, appearing in commercials and other marketing activities with the sports brand.
Former Liverpool player Steven Gerrard didn’t jump around to multiple teams chasing money like most modern contemporaries. He spent several years in Liverpool’s Under 23s Academy before being moved to the first team in 1998. He stayed there until 2015 when he moved to the US to play for MLS side LA Galaxy for one season.
Since 2018, Gerrard has worked as a manager for the Scottish side Rangers. Away from football, he’s appeared in a film called in 2011, although that was the start and end of his acting career.
Gerrard opened a restaurant in 2017, although he sold it two years later. He also owns several horses at his stables in Cheshire.
Pelé is perhaps Brazil’s greatest ever footballer. He began his career back in 1956, playing for Santos FC in São Paulo before moving to the US to play for the now-defunct New York Cosmos team.
After retiring from football in 1977, Pelé has had a varied career. He worked with Pepsi for a short time, which saw him attend a sponsored trip to Lagos in Nigeria. Since 1994, he has worked as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and has met several US Presidents, including Nixon and Reagan.
He’s published several books, composed pieces of music, and starred in a 1981 film called Escape to Victory. He’s continued his involvement in football and sport around the world, and even waved the chequered flag at the 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix, although he was too slow and missed Michael Schumacher crossing the line to take the victory.
Gary Neville spent his entire career playing for Manchester United, where he was a member of the famous “Class of 92”. He made 400 appearances for the club playing in right back.
After giving up playing in 2011, Neville announced plans to open a hotel near to his former club. In collaboration with several other players, namely: Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, and Phil Neville put together plans for the Hotel Football. Despite some opposition from his former club, Neville secured planning permission and the hotel was opened in 2015.
This wasn’t his only venture. He also plans to open another hotel after buying the Northern Stock Exchange Building.
He remains involved in football though, writing a column for Malta’s Sunday Times newspaper. He also worked as a pundit for Sky Sports until 2015 when he became the manager of Valencia. After being sacked from that role, he returned to TV where he has worked ever since.
Whether it’s engaging with other sports like poker in its various variations like Omaha hi-lo or Texas Holdem, working in managerial and coaching positions, or getting into property development, these footballers are just a small sample of the big names who’ve decided not to slow down after hanging up their boots.
No matter what path they take, the energy and drive that it takes to be successful in football can apply to other careers to see similar results there.