Like a drunken stunt that everyone knows is probably a bad idea, but encourages the person doing it anyway because it’ll be entertaining no matter what happens, footballers experimenting with acting has been a bit of a mixed bag over the years.
And with Neymar set to feature in the new XXX film – yeah, because we need another one of those – we look at the surprisingly well trodden path the Brazilian is set to take.
Famous for craving the limelight and often saying things you feel as though he probably doesn’t mean in order to get attention, it’s no surprise that Pelé has tried his hand at acting. The Brazilian’s most famous film is undoubtedly the classic Escape to Victory, alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone, but he made a host of other movies, including a small part in the cult flick Mike Bassett: England Manager.
Vinnie Jones, with his dulcet tones and sweet, boy-next-door smile, made the logical step into acting upon hanging up his bloodstained boots. The ‘ard man debuted in Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock, and has since played baddie in various other works, as well as playing a disgraced ex-pro prisoner in Mean Machine.
Perhaps a surprising inclusion on the list, Carlo Ancelotti briefly experimented with acting in the eighties, starring in Italian film The World of Don Camillo. Watching the movie, it’s no real surprise that Ancelotti’s career didn’t take off; we’re just thankful he chooses his managerial roles better than acting positions.
If you’ve got two minutes and fourty-four seconds of your life to waste, check out this clip and praise the cinema gods that filmmaking didn’t reach his apex in eighties Italy.
Stan Collymore is well-known for some bad decision making off the field; the former Forest and Liverpool striker punched ex-girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson in a Parisian bar and was later involved in a dogging scandal. Following this trend of making awful choices, Collymore made an appearance in the dour sequel to Basic Instinct, sharing a set with Sharon Stone in the ‘thriller’. Unsurprisingly, that was his last major role.
It is easy to imagine that, had he not been such an incredible footballer, the famously enigmatic Eric Cantona could have found fame and fortune as an actor. It’s unsurprising, then, that this was the career path King Eric decided to pursue when he left Manchester United in 1997.
Cantona has mainly starred in French-language productions, but also played himself in Ken Loach’s charming Looking for Eric. Having presumably shunned multiple offers to be in Kung fu films, Cantona has also managed France’s beach football side and got political following the banking crisis, inspired by his socialist roots to stick up for the little man. What a guy.
Not someone you could really envisage as a thespian, but almost obliged to give acting a go because of his unrivalled fame, David Beckham has made numerous appearances in front of the camera, although hasn’t given Shakespeare a go just yet.
There was the humorous appearance in legendary British comedy Only Fools and Horses, but also his unforgivable roles in Goal II and Goal III. Please, God, don’t make me watch the Goal franchise again.
Anyone who has seen Ian Wright trying to construct real, logical English sentences as a pundit will not be shocked to learn he made a completely nonsensical movie titled Gun of the Black Sun in 2011.
The plot consists of: A crazy Irishman, a Nazi pistol, a cigarette smuggling operation and music’s role in the possible return of the Fourth Reich. Yeah.
Those of us of a certain age will remember Hero to Zero with a kind of nostalgic confusion. A BBC show that would almost certainly not get past being pitched in the post-Jimmy Saville scandal era, Michael Owen jumped out of a poster of himself in a kid’s bedroom to give him footballing advice. Genuinely weird stuff.