These former footballers had careers with mixed fortunes, but they are all united by the characteristic of defecting from football, either fleetingly or to a permanent end.
Curtis Woodhouse (Boxing)
Woodhouse is known as a reliable midfielder who played out the best years of his career in the second tier with Sheffield United and later Birmingham City. His only season in the Premier League (with Birmingham in 2002/03) was solid enough, helping the Blues defy expectations and finish 13th.
He became a journeyman in the summer of 2003, playing for eight different clubs in a steady decline through the pyramid, until his retirement in 2012. Remarkably, the last six years of his football career overlapped with the first 20 fights of his pro boxing venture, from which he gained a respectable 16-4 record.
By July 2011, Woodhouse was the International Masters light-welterweight title, and in with a shot at the WBO Intercontinental welterweight title. However, he would lose via split decision (after 12 rounds) to future IBF welterweight title challenger Frankie Gavin.
Jerzy Dudek (Endurance racing)
Jerzy Dudek’s crowning moment as a professional was obviously the Champions League triumph of 2005, in which his off-putting antics in goal aided Liverpool’s shootout win after an unforgettable comeback.
Liverpool’s comeback is a tale that anyone learning about spread betting basics would do well to heed, and emphasised more than ever that a win is not certain until the final whistle. On the domestic scene though, Dudek was less of a hero, proving unable to help Liverpool win a first title since 1990, and the arrival of Pepe Reina in 2005 left him adrift of first-team plans.
A four-year spell at Real Madrid (2007-2011) yielded just two appearances, leaving Dudek to ponder his post-football options. While winning WEC titles is likely to be beyond his reach at his age, Dudek undoubtedly has the taste for the track, having been a driver in the 2014 Volkswagen Castrol Cup, finishing 18th in the overall field.
Bruce Arena (Lacrosse)
Current New England Revolution boss Arena was born to be an athlete, but as a youth who excelled in a range of sports, his path had little definition until his college years. While Arena likely harboured dreams of an NFL career, his size dictated that he would be of greater use on a soccer field. Ever the versatile player, he played both in defence and in goal, across spells with Cosmopolitan Soccer League side Hota S.C. and college team Nassau Lions.
It was after his transfer to Cornell University, and spell in goal for the Cornell Big Red, that his soccer career peaked. Arena enjoyed a run to the semi-finals of the 1972 NCAA University Division Men’s Soccer Tournament. He was drafted by the New York Cosmos after graduation, but fate intervened, with his pre-season release forcing his defection to professional Lacrosse.
Lev Yashin (Ice Hockey)
Yashin, also known as the Black Spider, is perhaps the greatest goalkeeper ever to play internationally. He was a one-man club, making 326 appearances for Dynamo Moscow between 1950 and 1970, and additionally took 78 caps for the Soviet Union. However, he was largely locked out of the first team picture during his early years with Dynamo’s soccer team.
That saw Yashin initially focus his attentions on goaltending for the Dynamo Moscow Ice Hockey team in the early 1950s, and his time spent with them undeniably gave him unrivalled reflexes compared to football thoroughbreds across the world. So too did it ensure that he was able to read quick counter-attacking games when the time came for him to focus fully on football.
Such was Yashin’s prowess on the ice, he was part of the Dynamo side that won the Soviet Cup in 1953. The 1953/54 Soviet League season also saw Dynamo finish top after winning 15 of 16 season games, and coincidentally or otherwise, they would not win it for another 36 years following Yashin’s permanent return to football.
Tim Wiese (WWE)
Wiese’s muscular 6’4 frame, supporting a chiselled face and slick, blond and (occasionally) shoulder-length hair, was reminiscent of a wrestler long before he became one. So too was his fiery temperament, and infamous tendency to indulge in outbursts. He spent the bulk of his career (2005-2012) playing for Werder Bremen, memorably helping them finish second in 2006.
Hoffenheim was Wiese’s last club, but he would spend just 18 months there, before his contract was mutually terminated, owing to his heavy frame. Though his body was no longer suitable for goalkeeping duties at the top level of German football, he still retained the athleticism shown in his Bundesliga career.
With his charisma as ever-present, it came as no surprise to see another 6’4 blond, musclebound antihero – namely former WWE champion Triple H (real name: Paul Levesque) – invite Wiese to the WWE performance Centre in Orlando for training.
His debut for WWE was a winning one, with Wiese fighting alongside Cesaro and Sheamus to beat the Shining Stars stable at a WWE Live event in Munich.