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There has long been a link between football and music, and while there has never been a case of someone successful in both fields, that has not stopped some of the world’s biggest stars on the pitch picking up an instrument and giving it their best. For many, it is simply an outlet to relax, while others have taken things just a little more seriously and have formed bands.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech was perhaps the most famous music lover during his time at the Emirates Stadium, boasting a YouTube channel on which he would showcase his drumming skills. Indeed, he even managed to strike up a friendship with Queen drummer Roger Taylor on a flight, while he is a member of a band called Eddie Stoilow. The former shot-stopper also teamed up with former Gunners team-mates Nacho Monreal and Alexis Sanchez, who is a talented pianist, in a 2015 Christmas video to raise money for the Arsenal foundation. Ex-USA international player Alexei Lalas, who was a star of the 1994 World Cup, took his music even more seriously than Cech. The guitarist released three albums and opened for Hootie and the Blowfish on their 1998 European tour. But it is Ruud Gullit, a European champion with the Netherlands and a two-time European Cup winner, who can lay claim to having arguably the greatest success in music, having played a cameo for Dutch reggae group Revelation Time in 1988 in their anti-apartheid song ‘South Africa’. The midfield maestro played bass on the track, which charted at No.3 in his homeland.
There have been cases of footballers who failed to make it at the top level going into music and having successful careers. James Allan, who played over 100 Scottish Football League matches for the likes of Queen’s Park, Dumbarton and Stirling Albion, was said to miss training sessions to go instead to band practise. It proved a bet worth taking for the singer, whose band Glasvegas enjoyed popularity with hits such as ‘Geraldine’ and ‘Daddy’s Gone’, and even supported the Kings of Leon on a US tour. Perhaps the biggest name to move into music, though, is Julio Iglesias. A former Real Madrid goalkeeper, his career was effectively ended at 20 when he was involved in a serious car accident that forced him to spend months in hospital. The legend has it that he was given a guitar then, fell in love with music and achieved worldwide fame.
Of course, not all musical talent is so appreciated as former Newcastle player Nolberto Solano discovered during his time in England. “I don’t think Bobby Robson was so keen on me playing my trumpet,” the Peruvian cult hero told FourFourTwo in 2005. “He didn’t know about it when he first took over as manager, but he soon found out when I rang him up one night and played down the phone to him. I’m not sure he was too amused. “It’s the same with David O’Leary at Aston Villa, he’s not a fan of my playing either. Whenever I call him and he’s got his mobile phone turned off, I like to leave him a nice loud message with my trumpet!”