When you hang up your boots as a footballer, the main target career paths are to go into coaching or go into the media. But there is an increasing minority of former players who are now carving out potentially lucrative second careers as poker players.
Some just dabble in the occasional tournament, while others treat it as a full-time job. So what makes footballers turn to poker?
“It’s definitely about the competitive nature of poker,” says Savanah author of USpokersites. “If age or injury have stopped you getting that on the football pitch, a lot of former players opt to play poker for the same buzz – the highs, lows and banter.”
Of course, many professional footballers become seasoned card players while killing time on the way to away matches.
Here are five players who have enjoyed considerable poker success.
1. Jan Vang Sorensen
The former Odense player was forced to retire through injury at the age of 30. The Danish league isn’t the most lucrative place to spend your playing days, particularly if your career is cut short, but Sorensen has certainly made amends.
His poker earning are well in excess of $2m. He admits that he learnt to play while travelling during his football career.
2. Tony Cascarino
Since the end of his playing days, the former Millwall, Chelsea, Marseille and Republic of Ireland striker has become a semi-professional poker player.
While also maintaining a career in punditry, Cascarino has taken his poker pretty seriously, too. He has won more than $500,000 while playing tournament poker, including an impressive £168,800 win in the GUKPT Grand Final.
3. Teddy Sheringham
A close friend of Cascarino from their Millwall days (Cascarino’s on is called Teddy in his honour), Sheringham has also made his mark in the poker world.
The ex-England, Spurs and Manchester United star has earned more than $300,000 at the poker table. His biggest win came when he won around $127,000 at a European Poker Tour event in 2010.
4. Gerard Pique
The Barcelona defender is one of the few players to participate in professional poker tournaments while in the prime of his career.
The Spain international was one of the leaders in last summer’s 44th Annual World Series of Poker Main Event for a while, before his luck evaporated. Nonetheless, he did win around $56,000 when he finished third in a game at EPT Barcelona back in 2011.
5. Jan Molby
The bulky former Liverpool midfielder has become a big presence on the poker circuit during his retirement. He has had brief forays into management with Swansea, Hull and Kidderminster Harriers, but has arguably had more success playing cards.
In 2012, he picked up a check for around $6,000 after finishing 45th at an EPT event in Copenhagen.