Becks: "Listen Luv, my torch is well shinier than that one"
*DISCLAIMER* For the purpose of this slideshow, I have chosen to ban from selection both David Beckham and Diego Maradona because they already transcend the boundaries of simply athletes and are more than pop stars already.
Summer months that aren't populated with a FIFA World Cup tend to be slightly dull affairs, although this year we have already been treated to one of the best tournament finals in recent history at the Gold Cup. News headlines are dominated by the whining of Carlos Tevez, the "will he won't he" of Cesc Fabregas and just who the hell is going to get fired next by Roman Abramovich.
So instead of taking the well-trodden path and speculating which United Kingdom based central-midfielder Liverpool are going to sign next, let's move into the realm of the fantastical. Professional athletes have probably the biggest egos on the planet, second ONLY to pop stars and The Situation from Jersey Shore. Therefore, becoming a pop sensation is the only way a footballer could take that step to the next level.
With this in mind, I present to you the top 10 footballers who would make brilliant pop stars for whatever reason. As always, your comments are appreciated!
CR9 stands alone on his pinnacle
Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese fancy-Dan come winger turned attacking powerhouse who is the most expensive player of all time. His rapid rise to fame from Sporting CP, Manchester United to the lights of Real Madrid has left defenders, women he has impregnated and countless empty bottles of tanning lotion in his wake. Probably the only athlete whose biggest fan is himself.
Ok this one was obvious, so I wanted to get it out of the way first. Ronaldo is the new Beckham, the most recognized and lucrative human brand in the sporting world, and he's not bad at soccer either. He's the biggest and the self-proclaimed best: U2, Madonna and Lady Gaga rolled into one. He is surrounded by some of the most expensive talent in the business but outshines them all.
If Ronaldo was a pop star he would be the one cranking out album after album, dropping new music videos faster than Steve Bruce signs ex-Manchester United players, and always threatening to put a choke-hold on the pinnacle of the billboard charts. The only problem? Lionel Messi and Barcelona. After switching record companies after his previous success at Manchester United, Ronaldo simply hasn't won it all in his new home.
This inability to oust the Catalans and particularly the little Argentine from being actually the best soccer talent in the world has given poor Ronaldo a ridiculous inferiority complex. Coupled with his enormous ego, this will lead to potentially embarrassing scenarios a la Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMAs.
The bottom line: while widely successful he's not everyone cup of tea, but will continue to perform until his late 50s when he'll eventually succumb to his son who will steal the spotlight.
Seriously the faces this guy makes are ridiculous
Rio Ferdinand. Or RioFerdy5. Whichever you prefer. The centre back was made the most expensive defender in history when Sir Alex Ferguson laid out £30 million to purchase the Leeds prospect and he's pretty much been a mainstay at Old Trafford.
He's a little creaky with injury problems now, but the man's composure and ice-cold temperament have shackled defenders for the better part of a decade.
Now you have to understand that Rio fancies himself as quite the smooth operator already. His 2006 show "World Cup Wind-ups" saw him attempting to get under the skin of fellow footballers like David Beckham, and his web magazine has him talking to all sorts of hip-hop personalities.
Regardless of whether you like his material, Ferdinand is a keen early adopter of Internet media, and this savvy will see him well taken care of financially once he hangs up his boots.
Rio Ferdinand the pop star is a hip-hop mogul, even though he didn't grow up in the projects or south-central LA, he still emanates an aura of "street cred" and has managed to transcend media boundaries similar to the likes of Drake.
He may not be topping the charts but his intensity and ability to connect with fans have solidified his position in the music scene.
You have to be a bad-ass to be a true rapper, and Rio channels this numerous DUI's, sex-tape scandals, and marijuana-related incidents. Rio the pop-star would have taken this to another level, and would likely end up in some form of mild Amy Winehouse state.
Joey Barton organizing his teammates
Joey Barton. Occasionally a tough-tackling left midfielder with decent vision and sweet left foot, at other times an absolute thug and all-round bad apple.
Barton played 130 games for Manchester City before being shipped off to Newcastle in 2007 thanks to a succession of sparking brawls, putting out his cigar in someone's eye and attacking a team-mate, among other things. It took Barton just two months after his October debut to be arrested in Liverpool on suspicion of assault. Later that spring, Barton was jailed for 77 days.
Barton has enjoyed a relatively low-key campaign by his standards, and has helped re-establish Newcastle as a Premier League club.
He began the 2010/2011 campaign with a moustache reminiscent of Graeme Souness and pledge not to shave it until his club won their first game, when they walloped Aston Villa 6-0. Barton has managed to put aside his unsavoury reputation for the time being and actually do what he is getting paid to do.
Every pop star knows that a stint in jail can do wonders for your reputation, but when the antics get out of hand it can put a serious damper on your marketability
Barton would classify as an edgy rocker, whose "devil may care" attitude could have ruined his career but has only served to make him more resolute. Similar to one of his good buddies, Noel Gallagher, Barton is often a more destructive presence in a team than productive.
Barton's groupies would be notorious for their alcohol-fuelled parties and lewd Internet videos, but the star himself would always attempt to convince people that he is a legitimate musician.
Midway through this season, Barton seemed to think he was England's best midfielder, which is the kind of attitude that perfectly fits a rockstar who believes his star shines much brighter than it actually does.
Enter the Special One
José Mourinho. Perhaps at some point in the future posthumous reports will emerge that the late and great Sir Bobby Robson knew exactly what he was unleashing upon the world when he hired a young and untested Mourinho to be his interpreter at Sporting CP.
After 18 trophies as a senior manager, Mourinho is the most recognizable non-player personality in the game. He is the Special One, and the only person on the planet with the ego, talent and mouth to manage the preening peacocks at Real Madrid.
Mourinho has provided more one-liners and sound bites than an Eminem album, and he shows absolutely no sign of slowing down.
The public persona of the Special One that we all now know and love is the result of a meticulous strategic plan executed to perfection by the Portuguese manager. He simultaneously raises his profile and takes the media focus off poor performances on the pitch by making outrageous statements and accusations.
His meteoric rise since winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004 has been a feat unequalled by any in the game. Central to this is the undeniable fact that Mourinho refuses to bend to anyone's will, so much so that Abramovich un-ceremoniously dumped him after Chelsea's failings in the Champions League.
Like many stars, the Special One could have faded into obscurity after being tossed by Chelsea, instead he jumped the English Channel to Italy and promptly won the treble with Inter Milan.
Mourinho the pop sensation is above the conflicts of mere mortals, and when he doesn't get his way will simply go a different direction and succeed elsewhere. He is the Jay-Z of soccer, after achieving success in one medium he simply moves on and one-ups is own achievements elsewhere.
How many footballing personalities out there have a wildly popular satirical talk-show based on their personality? How many managers have made their players break down in tears when he leaves them for Real Madrid? Zero.
Mourinho the pop star like Mourinho the manager is the best dressed, most loved (and most hated), one-of-a-kind superstar in the business. He is the kind of man that even if you hate everything he stands for, you'd still be rendered speechless and wet your pants at the thought of an autograph if he walked into a room.
Wayne Rooney. On Oct. 19, 2002 a 16 year-old striker from Liverpool ended Arsenal's 30-match unbeaten run with a screamer from well over 20 yards. The commentator's words were "Remember the name, Wayne Rooney" and almost 10 years on, we certainly have.
After a ridiculous debut at Euro 2004 where young Wazza exploded onto the international stage, Manchester United paid £25.6 million and he's been in the middle of the public eye ever since.
His form has risen and fallen as if it was floating on the ocean but after replacing Cristiano Ronaldo as the main man at Old Trafford, Rooney's iconic status for club and country is at its peak.
His talent is unquestionable and his appetite for the game will be remembered long after he hangs up his boots, but the past few years have raised questions that can't be answered with performances on the pitch.
There have been reports of soliciting prostitutes at an early age, wrangles with his agent, affinity for non-pregnant women and Marlboro Reds to unleashing a verbal barrage reminiscent of Didier Drogba into a camera.
Wayne Rooney the pop star is a talented artist, but it seems that his social infringements just keep catching up with him. He's marketed as a young role model for English kids looking for a hero but his personal life just keeps letting him down.
Similar to Britney Spears, however, Wazza continues to make comebacks and just when you think he's finished, he makes a dramatic U-turn and signs a new five-year deal instead of joining Manchester City.
Even after joking that his lack of hair may be the reason behind so many headed goals, Rooney went ahead and dropped £12,000 to fight oncoming baldness. I wonder what Zinedine Zidane or Alfredo di Stefano would say to this. The striker probably hopes that like Britney, coming back from the brink of baldness will coincide with a cleaner image and better performances.
Nicolas Anelka. Who is the most expensive player in the history of the game? Ronaldo's £80 million switch to Real Madrid is up there, but unfortunately he is supplanted by a man that puts Gulliver, Christopher Columbus and Captain Kirk's boasts of being "well travelled" to shame.
In a career that has seen French striker Anelka play for PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool (loan), Manchester City, Fenerbahçe, Bolton and finally Chelsea he has amassed a total of £86.8 million in transfer fees, making his agent probably the richest man in the world. If at first you don't succeed, try and try and try and try and try again.
In what has been a pretty incredible journey, Anelka and his infamous sulking demeanour has won trophies with five different clubs in his career. If only players were allowed to switch nationalities.
Anelka would likely play a country other than France after he was sent home in disgrace from South Africa for telling former manager Raymond Domenech to "Go f##k yourself, you son of a whore."
Anelka the pop star is someone who has changed his mind so many times and attempted to reinvent himself that he is bound to have success in some medium. Similar to Justin Timberlake, Anelka would move from boy-band top hip-hop to producer to budding actor to comedic personality to male model to soft-core adult film.
Never really fitting in and never really getting along with anyone, if you were a big fan of his it would be an extremely expensive hobby to continue to buy his things. Just imagine the poor kid with nine different Anelka club shirts in his closet.
At 32 years old he is nearing the end of his career, but surely a move to the MLS is on the cards? Just imagine the brooding over-paid talent that could be put on display if Anelka joins is compatriot Thierry Henry in New York.
With Fernando Torres' arrival at Stamford Bridge and Daniel Sturridge coming back from loan, this could be the perfect opportunity for another move. Unfortunately, Anelka has a long way to go before beating out German goalkeeper Lutz Pfannenstiel who has played for 24 different clubs on all six inhabited continents.
Stjarnan F.C. Who? At the time of writing they sit 5th out of 12 clubs in Úrvalsdeild, Iceland's top soccer division. You've probably never seen them play, probably haven't heard of any of their players, but you've definitely seen or heard of their goal celebrations.
YouTube has brought us many wonderful things: the Evolution of Dance, Nyan Cat, and HD highlight reels of Cristiano Ronaldo set to ridiculous unrelated music. Unfortunately, it is also responsible for Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black, the latter whose music is universally derided as contributing less to society than Muammar Gaddafi.
Somewhere in between there's a bunch of Nordic dudes who love to have a laugh and bring light-hearted fun back to the game of soccer. You'd be hard pressed to find any team in the world of sports that puts more effort and concentration into their goal celebrations.
Their antics have reached "internet-meme" status, and rightly so. Have you ever seen a goal celebrated with players combining to act out someone taking a dump then flushing the toilet? You have now.
The players of Stjarnan F.C. embody the user-created social media content that has re-defined how we view traditional media.
Additionally, their fame stems not from their actual profession but rather from a genuine "joie de vivre" which is refreshing in an age where the financial stakes climb ever higher in the footballing world.
Andre Arshavin. There is really nothing that symbolizes Arsenal's inconsistency better than the form of Russia's most talented player. Arsene Wenger broke his rule of only signing young talent when he brought Arshavin to Arsenal on the back of a memorable Euro 2008.
While never really establishing himself as a first-team regular at times he was simply irresistible, like when he scored all of the Gunners' goals in a 4-4 draw with Liverpool.
His future is under scrutiny as the 30-year-old has been supplanted by Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott, having to make most of his appearances this past season from the bench.
So blah blah he's a great footballer. The reason he's in this list however is his dedication to a Russian and international fan-base. Arshavin has a section on his official website where he answers questions posted by fans (in English and Russian). Here's a selection of some of my recent favorites:
Q: Andrey! Who is your favorite football player? Mine - Andrey Arshavin.
A: And mine too ;))))
Q: Do you use hair gel??? If you do what type do you use?? What's your favorite hairstyle??? I ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ your hair?
A: I don't have an ad contract with any hair gel producer. I use water before the game. A lot depends on water chemical composition.
On random things:
Q: Andrey, are you frightened of bears?
A: On the contrary, I like bears.
There you have it. Arshavin the pop star is a human on the inside, and isn't afraid to be honest and forward with his loyal fan base. He was interacting with people before Web 2.0 took off and continues to do so through his site, Twitter, and appearances on karaoke shows.
He's an avid blogger, and will likely remain a media personality long after he hangs up his boots.
Antonio Cassano. Fabio Cappello coined the phrase "Cassanata" after working with the young Italian striker at AS Roma, meant as a euphemism for anything that interrupts harmonious team spirit in the game. The Italian club had initially signed the striker for around £25 million, but offloaded him to Real Madrid for £5 because he just couldn't get along with anyone at the club.
After clashing again with Cappello, who had joined the Spanish giants, Cassano took a pay-cut to join Sampdoria. His form improved, and he eventually joined AC Milan, where he plays today.
The Italian is a greatly talented forward who is quick, agile, and skilled with both feet. Unfortunately, these skills have been balanced by the poorest attitude in soccer, as Cassano is probably one of the most immature people on the planet.
His on-pitch theatrics are legendary, and while he dives no more than any other player in Serie A, it is a reaction to referee's decisions that brings the worst out of the man. After being sent off against Torino he promptly threw his shirt at the official and was physically pulled off the pitch.
When he received a second yellow card in two games (meaning he'd miss playing against former club Roma) he dissolved into tears, throwing an epic temper tantrum.
Cassano the pop star isn't a large departure from the footballer. Blessed with talent and fortune at a very young age, he quickly comes into dispute with other personalities in the business.
Similar to ongoing feuds and "dissing" in the hip-hop world, the Italian would never take an opportunity to bury the hatchet, and even write songs ripping into his "adversaries." However, when opponents take a shot at Cassano himself he crumples under the pressure and goes on an ice-cream binge.
After being left out of Italy's 2010 World Cup squad he schedules his wedding for the tournament, telling anyone who would listen that he wouldn't change it even if Marcello Lipi wanted to bring him back into the fold.
Now back by popular demand he has been quite influential in Italy's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, but only time will tell when the next meltdown will occur.
Ryan Giggs. He was recently voted as the Premier League's best ever left-winger and this past March, surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton as Manchester United's all-time leader in appearances when playing in his 607th game.
As of today, he has an astounding 33 medals in his possession including 12 Premier League winners medals and two Champions League winners medals.
Through some freakish necromantic magic, he's still knocking on the door of United's first team at the ripe age of 37, and continues to astound the soccer world but taking his game to another level each and every season.
Giggs is the last of Fergie's Fledglings to remain in the nest, following the departures of Beckham, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt as well as the retirement of Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.
He is one of the greatest players in the game never to have had a real crack at soccer on an International level, but will continue to serve as a sterling professional model for young up-and-comers at Manchester Untied for years to come. Well, sort of.
As the disparity between the legal world and the Internet continues to grow, it was revealed via Twitter that Ryan Giggs was the anonymous footballer who had obtained a gagging order against a newspaper regarding an extra-marital affair with glamour model Imogen Thomas.
Further reports emerged that Giggs had also been involved in an eight-year relationship with his brother's wife. To make matters worse, the merciless British tabloid world took it a step further, claiming the Welsh winger was a sex-addict and had been involved with a third woman.
This is pretty much a day in the life of a pop star, but its quite the fall from grace from such a universally respected man.
Unlike a reported split for newlyweds Katy Perry and Russell Brand over sexual infidelity, it seems that Mrs. Giggs has already forgiven her cheating husband, meaning newspapers will have to come up with some other juicy gossip in order to sell prints.
The only good news to come out of this mess is that finally John Terry and Ashely Cole have someone to look down upon.