Top 10 Famous Names Who Could Have Been Footballers

From pop stars to philosophers, football has inspired lots of well-known names who craved fame on the pitch only to find it elsewhere. pays tribute to 10 of the finest...
10) Alain Prost (Formula One World Champion)

Long before Arsene Wenger there was another Frenchman known as 'Le Professeur'. Prost earned the nickname because of his smooth skill behind the wheel, but during his youth he was more interested in football until his father introduced him to karting on a family holiday in the South of France when he was 15. Four World Championships, 51 Grand Prix victories and some epic battles with Ayrton Senna later proved it to be the right career move.

9) Simen Agdestein (Chess Grandmaster)

The Norwegian clocked up the unusual feat of representing his country in both football and chess, in which he was a young king, winning his first national title aged just 15. Agdenstein turned out for Lyn Oslo and forced his way into the Norwegian national side before a cruciate ligament injury curtailed his promising career in his early 20s. He became a Grandmaster at 18 and has won seven Norwegian chess championships.

8) Luciano Pavarotti (Opera Tenor)

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 him out on the wing. Pavorotti's mother convinced him to enroll in teaching school, before the young tenor went his own way to become a global superstar. He was best known to football fans for his rendition of 'Nessun Dorma' during Italia '90.

7) Sean Connery (Movie Star)

Shurely, shome mishtake! Connery was given a licence to thrill Old Trafford, but the future Bond star 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. Still, the prospect of George Best and Connery in the same team would likely have sent countless females weak at the knees.

6) Nicky Byrne (Pop Star)

The Westlife crooner was in a little world of his own playing in goal for Leeds United, where he was an apprentice for two years. He was part of the Whites' 1997 FA Youth Cup winning squad before being released for being too short. Byrne also turned out for several clubs in Ireland before being spotted by Louis Walsh, who signed him up for his new pop project. The singer now gets his kicks with the evergreen Irish quartet instead of the Championship outfit.

5) Steve Waugh (Cricket Legend)

Australia's decorated former captain was so good in his youth that he had his pick of sports, as he juggled his commitments to football and cricket. Waugh played for New South Wales and, along with his twin Mark, they signed for Sydney Croatia, where they played for a brief spell before concentrating on the bat-and-ball full time. Both went on to achieve great success in the 'baggy green'.

4) Albert Camus (Philosopher)

Forget Eric Cantona, Camus was the authentic Gallic philosopher, and in his youth played for Racing Universitaire Algerois. Like many of his fellow famous names Camus was a goalkeeper, and was noted for his bravery and passion for the game. Any hopes of playing professionally were dashed when he contracted tuberculosis, but the Nobel Prize winner for Literature declared his love for the sport thus: "All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football."

3) Julio Iglesias (Singer)

Madrid's favourite son played in goal for Los Blancos' youth team until a freak car accident left him badly injured, ruining his chances of playing professionally. Whilst making his recovery in hospital, a nurse gave Iglesias a guitar to help regain dexterity in his hands and the balladeer has gone on to sell more than 300 million albums.

2) Rod Stewart (Singer)

Rod was, ahem, sailing to a successful footy career and signed apprentice papers with Brentford in his teens. He 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. The singer said he quit the game as being a musician was easier, plus he could get drunk all the time!

A wee mention must go to Stewart's fellow Scot Gordon Ramsay. The fiery chef was a triallist at Rangers, but didn't cut the mustard, failing to make the first team. Ramsay was accused of spicing up his football exploits and records from the Old Firm side proved his stay with the Ibrox club was a brief one.

1) Karol Jozef Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

Before making the pilgrimage to Rome, the young Wojtyla played in goal for his home town side in Wadowice. The future Pontiff was known for his strong build and featured between the sticks for his University side in Krakow. Whilst in the Vatican the former shot-stopper retained his enthusiasm for the game, and goalkeepers in particular, giving Irishman Shay Given a Papal Blessing when the Manchester City goalkeeper got married in 2001.