The sport is full of great personalities, some of whom have been fortunate enough to make acting careers after their athletic skills are long behind them. Popular figures in the sports world have made this transition, especially in the world of football.
From blinking and you will miss them cameos to well-rounded acting roles. There have been numerous football greats and many familiar faces from the football world who have appeared in various films over the years.
10 David Beckham
Former Manchester United and Real Madrid star David Beckham is no stranger to the movie world. He has performed numerous appearances, ranging from brief cameos as himself to small speaking roles. He appeared as himself and in archive footage on Goal! Trilogy as well as projectionist in The Man from UNCLE.
However, some of his appearances are notoriously harrowing, particularly when he appeared in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur film, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The legendary soccer star is one of the most recognizable personalities in the world, but if his appearance is dragged a little into the action, it can irritate audiences.
9 Stan Collymore
Former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool striker Stan Collymore has faced several personal controversies since retiring from football and focusing on professionalism.
Nevertheless, he managed to get hold of a small role in the sequel to the 2005 erotic thriller Basic Instinct 2, alongside Sharon Stone, who returned as the villainous serial killer Catherine Tramell. It was Collymore’s film debut in his extremely short-lived acting career. He played the role of Kevin Franks, a famous English soccer player, which couldn’t have been a huge challenge for the former player.
8th Eric Kantona
Former French soccer star Eric Cantona became a household name in the 1990s. An iconic player thanks to his long stint at Manchester United, he is often hailed as one of the team’s best players of all time.
When Cantona hung his boots up for us, he focused his post-acting career in the field of acting. He played his first major role in the historical drama Elizabeth, directed by Shekhar Kapur. Cantona played the role of the French ambassador Paul de Foix. He appeared in numerous other films both in France and internationally.
7th Ally McCoist
Now a much respected football commentator, former Scottish striker Ally McCoist, seemed an unlikely choice for a role alongside legendary actor Robert Duvall in 2000s A Shot at Glory.
McCoist played the role of Jackie McQuillan, a former fictional Celtic player who, along with club manager Gordon McLeod (played by Duvall), is trying to help the fictional Kilnockie FC team advance to their first Scottish Cup final. The last game was played against the real Scottish Premier League team Rangers, with whom McCoist spent 15 years of his playing career.
6th Allan Simonsen
Seeing a player fall to the ground like he’s just been shot isn’t exactly a new sight in a soccer game, but former Danish soccer player Allan Simonsen is the only player to do so on screen on purpose.
In 1977 the thriller The Sniper (AKA Skytten) hit Danish cinemas and saw the Borussia Mönchengladbach striker in the crosshairs of a sniper, only to be shot on the pitch during a game. It was an incredible dive that wouldn’t be out of place in the English Premier League.
5 Vinnie Jones
While many former soccer players enjoy lucrative and rewarding post-game careers, many often remain stuck in the industry in some form or another. However, some, like ex-Wimbledon midfielder and all-around tough guy Vinnie Jones, have been fortunate enough to make the full transition to acting.
Jones made his unexpected film debut in 1998 in Guy Ritchie’s directorial debut Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels in the role of Big Chris. Since then, he has starred in many films and television shows, often playing the role of the tough guy. This includes roles in Eurotrip and X-Men: The Last Stand.
4th Zinedine Zidane
Some cameos can be a little harrowing to the viewer, while others can be downright weird. Best known for his infamous headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final, Zinedine Zidane made his acting debut in the French fantasy comedy Asterix at the Olympic Games.
The former Juventus and Real Madrid attacking midfielder had an incredible playing career and showed his cheerful side when he appeared in the film in Cleopatra-Esque makeup and a matching wig. After all, he can prove his footballing skills in the film.
In action sequel xXx: Return of Xander Cage Brazilian soccer star Neymar is lucky enough to get some real scene time with co-star Samuel L. Jackson. He even manages to use his footballing skills and get away a tough shot with a napkin dispenser.
It was another example of left field casting, much like David Beckham’s appearance in King Arthur. This time, however, it seemed to match the winking nature of the film and didn’t feel completely out of place.
2 Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore was the captain of the English team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup. In 1981, Moore starred alongside the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine in John Huston’s sports-themed war film Escape to Victory.
Moore played as Terry Brady in the film, which focused on a group of Allied prisoners of war tasked with playing a soccer game against the Germans. The film itself also played several other notable real life players such as Pelé, Ossie Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, and Mike Summerbee.
The name Pelé is often celebrated as the greatest football player who played there. The Brazilian superstar had a few movie acting credits in the 1970s and of course appeared alongside Englishmen Bobby Moore and Sylvester Stallone in the aforementioned Escape to Victory.
In 2001 he appeared, if only briefly, in the satirical mockumentary comedy Mike Bassett: England Manager. His appearance may have been brief, but he managed to deliver a very fun line in one notable scene where English manager Bassett (played by English actor Ricky Tomlinson) was just dancing in his pants on a bar.
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About the author
(5 articles published)
Steven Davies is a freelance writer, film critic, and editor-in-chief of Horror Asylum. Passionate about everything to do with entertainment, he sees himself as a lover of a wide variety of films, franchises, and television shows.
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