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Football stars who broke Hollywood – from snogging A-list sex icon to Arsenal legend who refused to utter Spurs line

FOOTBALL is a notoriously short career, with most players forced to retire before they are 35.

It’s not surprising, then, that some turn to the big screen to launch a second career – with many Premiership legends heading to Hollywood to make their fortune.

Ian Wright with director Daniel Kaluuya and co-star Kane'Kano' Robinson at the launch for The Kitchen

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Ian Wright with director Daniel Kaluuya and co-star Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson at the launch for The KitchenCredit: Getty
Vinnie Jones cracked the movie world in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

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Vinnie Jones cracked the movie world in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking BarrelsCredit: Alamy

But the movie world is a tough nut to crack – and only a handful of footballers have made it.

Ian Wright is the latest to make movie news starring in the Netflix film The Kitchen, released this weekend.

He follows in the footsteps of fellow player Vinnie Jones whose hard man roles, in the likes of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, are now more memorable than his football.

Here we look at the football stars who have made it to Hollywood – and one who has a THIRD career as a singer.

Vinnie Jones

Vinnie Jones famously broke into America by appearing in Guy Richie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The 59-year-old, from Watford, was still playing football when he was cast in the 1998 British gangster film.

Vinnie, who is worth at least £7million, used his reputation for aggression on the pitch to help him land hardman roles on the silver screen.

He was infamously pictured grabbing Gazza’s testicles during a 1988 game between Wimbledon and Newcastle.

Eric Cantona starred with Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Richard Attenborough

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Eric Cantona starred with Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Richard AttenboroughCredit: Rex
He was infamously pictured grabbing Gazza’s testicles during a 1988 game

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He was infamously pictured grabbing Gazza’s testicles during a 1988 gameCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

But Vinnie is now best known for his acting after appearing in Hollywood hits such as Mean Machine, Gone in 60 Seconds and X-Men: The Last Stand.

David Beckham

David Beckhammade America his home in the final years of his footballing career after signing a £128million five-year contract with MLS team LA Galaxy in 2007.

And rubbing shoulders with Hollywood A-Listers obviously inspired Golden Balls to try out a bit of acting himself.

Just like Vinnie, Becks, 48, worked with Guy Ritchie on the 2017 blockbuster King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Becks worked with Guy Ritchie on King Arthur

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Becks worked with Guy Ritchie on King ArthurCredit: Alamy

He had a cameo role as a grumpy knight in the film, which grossed £116million at the box office.

And he also made an appearance as a projectionist in Ritchie’s 2015 film The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona was never short of confidence during his footballing career.

And he was no different when he turned his hand to acting as he had no qualms about playing himself in the 2009 Ken Loach film Looking for Eric.

In 2003, King Eric was voted Manchester United’s best ever player for his time at the club between 1992 and 1997.

Eric played a courtier in the movie Elizabeth

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Eric played a courtier in the movie ElizabethCredit: Alamy
The star played himself in Looking For Eric

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The star played himself in Looking For EricCredit: Alamy

The Frenchman’s reputation took a hit when he kung fu kicked a fan at a Crystal Palace game in 1995.

However his popularity endured thanks to the 57-year-old’s charismatic personality.

That same charisma translated on screen when he played the role of a French diplomat alongside Cate Blanchett in the 1998 smash hit Elizabeth.

The move led to a slew of acting roles in his native France, most recently in the miniseries Inhuman Resources and the action thriller AKA.

He recently launched a singing career, releasing a single, The Friends We Lost, in May 2023.

Ian Wright

Wrighty's first role was the 2011 movie Gun of the Black Sun

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Wrighty’s first role was the 2011 movie Gun of the Black Sun
Ian Wright stars in The Kitchen

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Ian Wright stars in The KitchenCredit: Netflix

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has become the latest footballer to bag a Hollywood role with his upcoming part in the Netflix film The Kitchen.

Wrighty, 60, is already a familiar sight on our TV screens thanks to his weekly appearances on Match of the Day.

And his latest appearance in The Kitchen, which is being directed by Hollywood A-Lister Daniel Kaluuya, is not the first time he has acted.

He also starred in the 2011 film Gun of the Black Sun and appeared as himself in the popular Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso.

But Hollywood has clearly not changed the former England striker after he reportedly refused to praise Tottenham on the show.

He apparently demanded the line “Tottenham are a great side” be changed as he knew if he said it he would never be able to return to north London.

Stan Collymore

The former Liverpool player wanted to be 007

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The former Liverpool player wanted to be 007Credit: AP:Associated Press
He romped with Sharon Stone

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He romped with Sharon StoneCredit: Planet Photos

Striker Stan Collymore once admitted in an interview that he wanted to be “the first black James Bond”.

And although the 52-year-old didn’t bag the 007 gig, he did land a top role alongside Sharon Stone.

In 2006 he appeared alongside the A-Lister in Basic Instinct 2, which grossed more than £30million.

In the film, Collymore, who played for Nottingham Forest and Liverpool in the 90s, shared a hot and steamy scene with Stone.

In it, the pair become frisky in a car before Collymore crashed into the River Thames.

Stone tipped Collymore for Hollywood greatness after his appearance in the film – but he never bagged another big role again.

Zinédine Zidane

Zidane was a Real Madrid legend

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Zidane was a Real Madrid legendCredit: AP:Associated Press
He looked very different in his Asterix role

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He looked very different in his Asterix role

Zinédine Zidane is widely known for his skills on the pitch – and the headbutt that marked the end of his career as a player.

However, he also starred in a couple of films, proving he has more about him than football alone.

The Real Madrid legend enjoyed a cameo role in the 2008 film Asterix at the Olympic Games, which grossed more than £100million.

The 51-year-old also played himself in the 2005 film Goal! The Dream Begins, starring alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham.

But Zizou reportedly became peeved when he was left waiting for Becks to turn up to film their scene together for the flick.

Paul Breitner

The German player scored in two World Cup finals

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The German player scored in two World Cup finalsCredit: Getty – Contributor
Potato Fritz was not so legendary

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Potato Fritz was not so legendaryCredit: Alamy

German midfielder Paul Breitner is one of only four players to have scored in two different World Cup final matches.

He also belongs to another tiny club of players who have starred in films during their careers.

The 72-year-old landed parts in two German films.

His first flick, a Spaghetti Western called Potato Fritz, was filmed in 1976 while he was still playing for Real Madrid.

Breitner took on the role of a bandit-hunting Sergeant in the film, which was panned by critics.

He appeared again on the silver screen with the 1983 German flick Der Zappler.

And he returned one more time with the 1986 film called Kunyonga – Mord in Afrika.

Sadly none of the movies enjoyed the kind of success he achieved on the pitch.

Pelé

Escape to Victory was among the first to feature players

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Escape to Victory was among the first to feature playersCredit: Alamy
The Brazilian legend also starred in a bizarre TV series about aliens

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The Brazilian legend also starred in a bizarre TV series about aliens

Brazilian football icon Peléwas one of the first to make the jump from football to films.

He starred in the 1981 sports movie Escape to Victory, appearing alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone.

The legend also landed a role in Os Estranhos – a 1969 Brazilian TV drama about humans making first contact with aliens.

His successful acting career continued with a cameo role in the 2001 film Mike Bassett: England Manager – a mockumentary about a small-time football manager who is put in charge of the national team.

Pele, who died in 2022, also became the face of many brands in television adverts throughout his life.

He filmed commercials for American Express, Mastercard, Pepsi, Atari, Emirates, Louis Vuitton and others.

Zlatan Ibrahimović

The Swedish ace played for Man United

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The Swedish ace played for Man UnitedCredit: Getty
Zlatan cut his famous hair and donned Roman armour for his debut

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Zlatan cut his famous hair and donned Roman armour for his debutCredit: Pathe

Footballing superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović made his big screen debut last year as a Roman warrior.

The Swede played a Roman called Caius Antivirus in the 2023 French-language film Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom.

Ibrahimović also recently appeared in the Italian TV comedy series Vita da Carlo.

The former Manchester United player has the potential to enjoy a glittering career in Hollywood thanks to his unbelievable confidence.

During his time as a player, the 42-year-old earned a reputation for being cocky and was often accused of arrogance.

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