World Football: 10 Footballers Who Could Have Played Pro in Other Sports

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer IDecember 6, 2011

World Football: 10 Footballers Who Could Have Played Pro in Other Sports

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    Footballers are among the most talented athletes in the world. They need to have strong reactions, stamina and speed in order to effectively compete at the top level.

    Throughout the past several years, athletes such as Usain Bolt and Chad Ochocinco have made attempts to play the beautiful game, to no avail.

    However, there are also footballers capable of playing other sports. Here are 10 athletes that could have done so if they had an opportunity.

Andy Goram: Cricket

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    A legend with Rangers, Andy Goram was also an accomplished cricket player. Goram played four times for Scotland in 1989 and 1991.

    Goram was forced to retire from test cricket after he joined Rangers in 1991 due to injury concerns. Several years after retiring, Goram came back to play cricket to mixed results.

Joe Hart: Cricket

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    Joe Hart was once a promising young cricket player with Shrewsbury CC and appeared for their first-team in the Birmingham and District Premier League between 2003 and 2005.

    Hart decided in 2005 to stop playing cricket in order to pursue a career in football.

    According to former coach Damian D’Oliveira, Hart had plenty of potential.

    "He had all the ­attributes — he was tall at 6ft 2in, could swing the ball back into the ­right-hander and could bowl around 85mph. He was one of the most highly-rated players in the country."

Geoff Hurst: Cricket

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    Geoff Hurst will always be remembered for his performance in the 1966 World Cup final, but he also had a chance to play cricket.

    Hurst played one first-class cricket match in 1962 for Essex against Lancashire before playing 23 times for the Essex Second XI.

    Hurst decided to retire from cricket in 1964 to focus on his football career.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Taekwondo

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    He is one of the most-known footballers in the world, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic also received a black belt in taekwondo back when he was 17 years old.

    Ibrahimovic has continued to practice taekwondo in Italy, getting an honorary black belt from the Italian national taekwondo team in 2010.

    According to Leif Almö, the president of Unity Sports Centre in Malmö, which is where Ibrahimovic practiced taekwondo in his youth, "Had he had the same focus on taekwondo which he has had in football, and been able to invest in the same way, it is clear that he could have been as good as anywhere."

Gary Lineker: Cricket

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    He may be one of the greatest footballers England has ever seen, but Gary Lineker was also a fantastic batsman in cricket.

    When discussing his adolescent years in sport, Lineker said, "I was captain of the Leicestershire Schools cricket team from 11 to 16 and thought at the time I would probably have more chance afterwards in cricket than football."

Phil Neville: Cricket

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    Phil Neville may not be as well known as his older brother, but he was an accomplished cricket player in his youth.

    Neville was the left-handed opening batsman for the England U-15, which he was also the captain for. Neville also is the youngest person ever to play for Lancashire second XI.

    Neville's father is former professional cricket player Neville Neville.

Roy Keane: Boxing

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    Roy Keane was known for his ferocious ability throughout his career, and that came from his boxing training from his youth.

    Keane trained for boxing when he was 10, but his height caused him to quit.

    However, Keane never gave up his love for boxing, saying, "Boxing is the best sport in the world. It's man against man. You are on your own. There's only one person going to come out of that ring a winner" in a 2002 interview.

Theo Walcott: Sprinter

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    He is one of the fastest footballers the Premier League has ever seen, and Theo Walcott certainly could have become a sprinter if he decided not to pursue a career in football.

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that Walcott could have even been a match for Olympic 100-meter champion Usain Bolt.

    Walcott has already claimed that he could run run 100 metres in 10.3 seconds, which would be within Bolt's world-record time of 9.58 seconds in the 100-meter.

Boudewijn Zenden: Judo

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    He currently is not with any club, but Bolo Zenden was a big judo talent in the Dutch provence of Limburg.

    Zenden had a black belt by the time he was 14, and the skills that he learned through judo allowed Zeden to become a footballer who throughout his career played for the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Liverpool.

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