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Soccer is known as the beautiful game and is the most popular sport worldwide. It's no surprise there are plenty of celebrities who played soccer, and some were nearly good enough to become professionals. While many have dreams of playing professional soccer, very few actually get to achieve that dream. Here are celebrities who played soccer and almost went big with it.
Before yelling at people in kitchens, Gordon Ramsay was yelling at teammates and opposing players on the soccer field. Raised in Stratford, England, Ramsay played for the Warwickshire U-14 soccer team and earned himself a tryout with the Glasgow Rangers. Ramsay's soccer career was cut short at 19 when he suffered an injury training with Glasgow. This was when turned his focus to cooking. In 2013, Ramsay teamed up with English soccer legend David Beckham to open the Union Cafe in London.
It's no secret that the former host of The Daily Show is a sports fan, Jon Stewart is often seen at Mets and Knicks games. Stewart played soccer while attending The College of William and Mary. "My college career was waking up late, memorizing someone else's notes, doing bong hits, and going to soccer practice," the legendary host told New York Magazine. The College of William and Mary was and still is a division 1 school so Stewart was one of the more talented celebrities who played soccer.
Before being a teenage heartthrob and member of boyband One Direction, Louis Tomlinson was making girls swoon on the soccer pitch. In 2013, Tomlinson played with his hometown team, the Doncaster Rovers, on a non-contract basis. Tomlinson described playing for the Rovers as a dream come true and he still shows off his skills in charity matches. He's still young enough to pursue a soccer career if he wanted to, so maybe we'll see him turn professional after all.
Chad Ochocinco had a successful NFL career, being named to six pro bowls, but up until his sophomore year of high school, he played soccer. During the NFL lockout of 2011, Ochocinco stayed in shape by practicing with Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. Ochocinco's NFL career ended after that 2011 season but he kept training with Kansas City. He even appeared in a few scrimmages in 2013 but didn't make the final cut.
In his 2012 autobiography, Rod Stewart wrote, "Well, a musician's life is a lot easier and I can also get drunk and make music, and I can't do that and play football." As another one of these celebrities who played soccer, Stewart nearly made it to the top levels of the sport. Coming from a football loving family, it was no surprise Stewart was a talented player. He played for the Middlesex Schoolboys, where he was a captain. In 1960, Stewart tried out for the Third Divison club Brentford FC. The music legend was never offered a contract or even contacted by the club after the tryout, so he focused on his music career.
Before being a chart-topping artist, Julio Iglesias spent his time between law school and the soccer pitch. In fact, Iglesias earned a roster spot for Real Madrid as a goalkeeper. Unfortunately, Iglesias' soccer career came to an abrupt halt when he was involved in a car accident. The accident left his lower spine smashed and permanently weakened his legs. It was while he was in the hospital he was handed a guitar by a nurse. Iglesias discovered his love of music and become one of the celebrities who played soccer but didn't truly become a professional.
Of all the celebrities who played soccer, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash may have been the best. In 2005, Nash explained that if he chose soccer over basketball, he could have turned pro. We all know Nash chose basketball and built a hall of fame caliber career, but who knows how good of a soccer player could've been. During his basketball career, Nash would often spend off seasons in New York City, where he would train with the New York Red Bulls. Nash credits his NBA success to his knowledge and skill in the game of soccer. In January 2016, Nash was part of a group that purchased a $21 million stake in the Spanish franchise RCD Mallorca, so he is still involved with the game.
Bond, James Bond. Some of the athletic feats Sean Connery showed off in his seven Bond films were developed on the soccer pitch. Connery's soccer career started at a young age playing for Bonnyrigg Rose. Before making the final decision to be an actor, Connery impressed Manchester United manager, Sir Matt Busby, during a game against a local team. Shortly after the match, Busby offered Connery a contract, but he declined because he wanted to act. Connery was 23 at the time so he chose acting for the longevity. This decision made him one of the celebrities who played soccer in their youth, and not an all-time great footballer.
Tom Cruise is one of the most famous movie stars ever, but before starring in half of the movies you've ever seen, he played soccer in Canada. Cruise was a pretty talented player, suiting up for his high school team, but his career was cut short when he suffered an injury his senior year. Cruise still follows the sport and is often seen at LA Galaxy games. It's probably a good thing Cruise ended up as an actor because his 5'7" frame wouldn't have made him a great player at the upper levels of competition.
Another actor who is one of the celebrities who played soccer is Channing Tatum. He played on the varsity team for Tampa Catholic High School. Before starring in movies like GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Magic Mike, and 21 Jump Street, Tatum had a supporting role in the Amanda Bynes movie She's the Man, where he played soccer star Duke. Turns out Tatum didn't have to do much acting for that role.