Aside from being one of England’s finest ever defenders, Rio Ferdinand has been involved in several surprising pursuits outside of the game, none more memorable than his appearance in a TV prank show targeting his fellow England team-mates in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup. Rio’s World Cup Wind Ups, produced in collaboration with NVA Entertainment’s Chris Nathaniel, was one of his more ambitious attempts to raise his profile and bolster his image as a successful role model. Rio’s performance on the show has compelled us to review other examples of footballers who have attempted to make the leap from sports star to TV personality.
Unsurprisingly, ex-Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp’s appearance on the Sky One sports quiz show, ‘A League of Their Own’, must go down as the most successful and enduring appearance by a former or current footballer on the big screen. After hanging up his boots Redknapp put in regular appearances as a pundit and commentator on Sky Sports, an apprenticeship which clearly put him at the front of the queue when Sky One were later recruiting for someone to co-host a new show alongside James Corden and Andrew Flintoff.
In one of the more surprising appearances by an ex-player ever to grace our screens, in 2015 former Aston Villa and England centre-forward Dion Dublin appeared as a co-presenter of the BBC property auction show, Homes Under the Hammer. Upon retiring from football, Dublin spent a brief spell working in the media as a pundit, commentator and radio presenter, before receiving a BBC grant of up to £50,000 to train up promising future TV presenters! Upon completing his training, he swiftly secured the role on the popular daytime show and can now be seen advising on buying and renovating properties in living rooms across the country.
The final position on this shortlist has been awarded to Wayne Rooney, for his appearance on Sky One’s, Wayne Rooney’s Street Striker. The premise of the show was based on Rooney’s upbringing honing his skills on the streets of Liverpool and saw promising young footballers from across the country compete to win tickets to World Cup games and opportunities to train and learn from professional coaches and clubs. Whilst Rooney’s personality may not have been perfectly suited to TV presenting, it did however allow the viewing public a more intimate insight into the country’s most prolific ever striker.