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Friday, 19 November 2010

Roar Strand loves sweeping chimneys...

Henry Salmon

All around the world, sporting greats live under constant scrutiny from the media, with their private lives receiving as much (and in some cases more) attention as their exploits in the profession that brought them fame. These top players usually go into coaching or punditry, whilst the ones that don't are able to live off their success for the rest of their life without too much concern. However, some sporting luminaries career-paths take bizarre turns, and I have chosen a few of the more amusing life choices to share with you.

Football is a sport associated these days with glamour and glory. The big contracts result in attractive girlfriends and lavish lifestyles. Not for Roar Strand. The first of two Norwegians on this list, the former Rosenborg player retired from football and took up the unenviable task of sweeping chimneys for a living. No joke.

One of the most peculiar ends to a career came when Argentinian international goalkeeper Carlos Roa gave up his gloves in 1999 (aged 29) to preach in Argentina. He believed the world was going to end in the year 2000 and spent his life trying to convert people to 7th day adventism. When oblivion failed to rear its ugly head, he went back to Real Mallorca and continued to play football until 2006. Roa is not the only footballer to have replaced football with religion, Alan Comfort became a vicar on retirement, and both are likely to be followed by the holy man himself, Brazilian star Kaka.

Some more politically minded readers might remember the curious case of Terry Marsh in the 2010 general election. Terry Marsh started out in the spotlight as a light-welterweight boxer. He retired in 1987 as undefeated IBF light-welterweight champion. In 1989, he was put on trial for the attempted murder of his trainer, Frank Warren, for which he was eventually acquitted. After this, he took the route any retired boxer and marine accused of murder would take – politics. In 1997, he ran as a Liberal democrat in Basildon, before having to withdraw under accusations of fraud. Better still, in 2010 he changed his name by deed poll to None of the Above X as a protest against the voting system, and ran as an independent candidate For South Basildon and East Thurrock. Needless to say, Mr. X was unsuccessful.

The next person on this list is here partly for his post-cricket career choices, but also for his incredible change of accent. Like Steve McClaren, Jack Richards, former England wicket keeper, has developed an extraordinary Dutch accent since emigrating. After retiring at 30, Richards moved to the Belgian/Dutch border working as a shipping broker in Rotterdam. He is also head-coach of the Belgian Under-16 team. Not in cricket, but in Rugby...

Americans seem to do everything bigger and better, and in the case of this blog, this is as true as anywhere else. Richard Seigler was a line backer in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers until a couple of years ago. On a handsome wage, one would think that he would not need to break the law to earn his living. Mr. Seigler though, might be described as “old school”. Not content with the money he was making from “football,” Siegler was found to be soliciting prostitutes in Las Vegas for his pocket money. As if being a pimp and a celebrity at the same time wasn't a stupid enough combination, he advertised them on popular US website, Craigslist!

Ugueth Urbina, may not be a name that British are familiar with but the Venezuelan former major league baseball pitcher is the second of our criminal sportsmen. His ranch in Venezuela was the scene of the attempted murder he was convicted of on two of his employees. He attacked them both with Machetes and tried to pour gasolene on them for “stealing a gun”. It turns out they were just trying to escape his employ as he was using them on his ranch practically as slaves.

Finally, Liverpool and Rosenborg fans might remember Norwegian right back Vegard Heggem. I remember his goal in the stunning win for Rosenborg at the San Siro in 1996, but it was my cousin, a certain Paul Gilbert esq. who informed me of his post football career as the owner of a salmon fishing business in rural Norway. I don't know why I found that so amusing, but in some ways, this is my favourite story of all. Salmon fishing – outrageous!!

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