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Footballers with degrees: Kompany, Mata & 10 players who went to university

19:28 EAT 04/08/2019
Andrey Arshavin Arsenal
Footballers might not have a reputation for intelligence, but these players proved that plenty have brains on top of their talent

  • Vincent Kompany Manchester City 2018-19

    Vincent Kompany

    Not content with lifting Premier League titles as captain, rifling in screamers at crucial stages in title races and being beloved by seemingly all who cross his path, Vincent Kompany also has a Master's in Business Administration.

    He graduated from Alliance Manchester Business School in 2017, with a keen interest in the world of football off the pitch. It was hardly surprising, then, to see him step into a managerial role at Anderlecht.

    His final dissertation project, looking at how Premier League football clubs benefit from home advantage, received a distinction grade.

  • Socrates Brazil


    The Brazil legend built up a mystique not only around his ability on the field, but his deep thinking off it. 

    He completed a doctorate in Medicine during his playing career, and practised medicine after his retirement from the game in 1989 before also earning a PhD.

    Known as 'Doctor Socrates', he grew up in a house that half-resembled a library, stacked with philosophical books and other works by his father.

  • Juan Mata Manchester United

    Juan Mata

    Juan Mata became one of the world's most universally popular footballers when he announced his Common Goal initiative back in 2017, but it wasn't the first sign of his thoughtful nature.

    During his time at Valencia and Chelsea, he earned two degrees from Madrid’s Universidad Camilo Jose Cela - one in Marketing, and one in Sports Science.

    About to start his seventh season at Manchester United, Mata has suggested he will go into coaching at the end of his career but also says he is interested in the field of psychology.

  • Iain Dowie

    Iain Dowie

    Now 54, Iain Dowie made over 400 appearances across a 13-year career as a forward, winning 59 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

    As a youngster, though, his football career looked to be over before it had begun when he was released by Southampton. He went to the University of Hertfordshire, earned a Master's in Engineering and got a job at British Aerospace.

    Playing in non-league, he was spotted by Luton Town, where he decided to focus on football full-time. Now a pundit, in 2016 he was appointed the regional sales manager for Go To Surveys, a company which carries out homebuyers reports, building surveys and valuations.

  • Arshavin - Designer

    Andrey Arshavin

    The 75-cap Russian international has had a long and colourful career, and will be remembered on English shores primarily for his famous four-goal performance for Arsenal against Liverpool.

    He also has three published books to his name, including one titled '555 Questions and Answers on Women, Money, Politics and Football’. The icing on the cake, though, is his degree in Fashion Design.

    Arshavin retired in 2018 after three seasons in the Kazakhstan Premier League, having scored 141 goals in 623 club appearances throughout his career.

  • Steve Palmer QPR

    Steve Palmer

    Former Ipswich, Watford, QPR and MK Dons defender Steve Palmer carved out a solid career, making more than 500 appearances across the English leages.

    He did so with a degree in Computer Software design from the University of Cambridge under his belt, one of a select few Oxbridge alumni to turn out in the professional game. During his studies, he appeared in a first-class cricket match for the university team.

    Perhaps more impressively - you be the judge - in the 1997-98 season, he broke a Watford record by playing in every position and wearing every shirt number from one to 14 throughout the campaign. 

  • Duncan Watmore

    Duncan Watmore

    Sunderland winger Duncan Watmore was afforded time off from training to study for an Economics degree as he first broke through into the first-team on Wearside.

    Having initially started at the University of Manchester while playing at non-league side Altrincham, Watmore transferred to the University of Newcastle after making the move to the North East.

    “It was not the typical student life," he told the Guardian. "I missed out on a few things but I really enjoyed it. It was hard. There were a lot of long nights in my flat just catching up, reading textbooks, going online for lectures, emailing lecturers. It was hard at times but the club at Sunderland were awesome with me, and so were Newcastle University.

  • Shaka Hislop

    Shaka Hislop

    Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Hislop was an important part of Sir Bobby Robson's Newcastle side in the late nineties, also representing Reading, West Ham, Portsmouth and FC Dallas.

    As a youngster, Hislop earned a scholarship to play college soccer at Howard University in the United States, where he eventually graduated with honours with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. 

    He was in his element dealing with Alan Shearer's rocket of a shot in Newcastle training - during his studies, he interned at NASA.

  • Slaven Bilic

    Slaven Bilic

    A fearsome defender and experienced manager by day, Slaven Bilic has plenty of extracurricular interests outside of football.

    He is partial to moonlighting as a rock guitarist and, as a young player unsure of his future, gained a degree in Law from the University of Split.

    Bilic is back in England this year, the former West Ham manager dropping down to the Championship with promotion hopefuls West Brom after a short spell in Saudi Arabia.

  • Capital One Cup press conference at Wembley, David Wetherall

    David Wetherall

    Former Leeds United and Bradford City defender David Wetherall became the first Premier League player to graduate with a first-class degree back in 1992. Until Watmore joined him more than two decades later, he was the only one.

    While on the books at Sheffield Wednesday at the beginning of his career, Wetherall earned a degree in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield. He had previously represented Great Britain at the 1990 world student five-a-side football championship in Italy, and the 1991 World Student Games in Sheffield.

    After making more than 500 appearances for Leeds and Bradford, Wetherall was later named Head of Youth Development for the Football League.