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Football and music

After last week's look at players who have moonlighted in the world of politics, ESPNsoccernet presents a list of the players who have made a bid for musical success.

Julio Iglesias

Iglesias, who has sold hundreds of millions of albums worldwide, had initially dreamed of becoming a professional footballer. He was a goalkeeper in Real Madrid's youth team, where he had the chance to practise alongside Alfredo Di Stefano - whom he has described on numerous occasions as "the greatest ever" - before seeing his career brought to a premature end by a car accident the day before his 20th birthday.

During his recuperation from the accident, which doctors initially believed would leave him paralysed, he began learning the guitar because, he said, he wanted "to increase dexterity in my hands".

Rod Stewart

Before embarking on a long and distinguished musical and sexual career, Stewart attempted to carve out a career as a centre back with Brentford in 1961.

How long he was there is a matter of debate. His own recollection is that he was there a couple of months as an apprentice but walked away because he didn't fancy putting the work in.

"A musician's life is a lot easier and I can also get drunk and make music, and I can't do that and play football," he said. "I plumped for music ... They're the only two things I can do actually: play football and sing."

In 2006, though, Brentford's deputy president, Eric White, indicated that Stewart's account may have been exaggerated.

"He trained with us for a week or two and he may even have kicked a ball around with the juniors, but there is no record of Rod Stewart ever having signed to Brentford," he told The Guardian. "Unfortunately, nobody at the club remembers his time here."

Kevin Keegan

During his time with Hamburg, Keegan made a decent impression on the charts in Germany with the 1979 single Head Over Heels in Love reaching No. 10.

It did less well in England, peaking at 31, but Keegan feels his sales were respectable. "You may laugh but that single sold 200,000 in Britain and half a million in Germany," he said a few years ago. "More than enough to get me to number one now."

Respected British DJ Annie Nightingale gave it some critical acclaim, too, naming it as one of her 'Super Singles' in the Daily Express in the week of its release.

Head Over Heels in Love had actually been Keegan's second single, following 1972's It Ain't Easy, and he was happy enough with his back catalogue to launch another assault on the charts in 1980 with England. He returned to singing duties with the English national team's 1982 World Cup song, This Time (We'll Get it Right).

Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle

England stars 'Glenn & Chris' actually had some measure of success with their inexplicable 1987 single Diamond Lights, reaching No. 12 in the charts. The video of their performance on Top of the Pops, though, remains a source of abject humiliation for Waddle.

Hoddle told FourFourTwo: "I have always loved music, and always sung at home and driven my kids and family absolutely mad. It is true on that night I put on a good act, but Chris was petrified. I remember looking across and seeing him clinging on to the microphone."

Waddle doesn't dispute his account: "I was petrified. He was confident. He enjoyed it. He's a positive guy."

Paul Gascoigne

When Gascoigne announced himself as a global star during England's march to the semi-finals at Italia '90, a couple of financial advisors stepped in to help 'maximise his brand'.

The England manager, Graham Taylor, dropped Gascoigne as a result of his off-field commercial distractions, but one of the financial advisors, Mel Stein, claimed "95% of the stuff offered is turned down".

Nonetheless, in addition to endorsing Hayjax duvees, Gascoigne released a rework of British rock band Lindisfarne's Fog on the Tyne in October 1990, which reached No. 2 in the charts.

His Italia '90 team-mate Gary Lineker was less than impressed. "For Gascoigne, the change in his life was as drastic as it was swift," he wrote in 1995. "He was followed by the press, in demand commercially and adulated like a pop star, even trying to become one with his awful and ill-advised rendition of The Fog on the Tyne."

Gascoigne's music career had ended as soon as it had begun, and it appears he retained no affection for the industry. Ocean Colour Scene bassist Damon Minchella told Total Football magazine in 1998 that, when he asked Gascoigne for an autograph for a young relative, he was told: "No, I don't like singers."

"I couldn't believe it," Minchella said. "I should have said, 'I don't like wife beaters, you Geordie bastard'. But I didn't."

Alexi Lalas

Famed throughout the football world for his punk ginger goatee beard, it's probably no surprise to learn that USA '94 star Lalas, from an early age, had a foot firmly in the music camp.

At high school, he says, he was "able to move between two worlds - the jock world and the music world", and he was able to combine his role as singer and guitarist for the band Gypsies with his football career.

"This has never felt like a hobby or a sideline to me," he said during his playing career. "I am as serious about my music today as I ever was. I'll continue to play soccer as long as my body holds out, but I'll be playing music for the rest of my life."

Gypsies opened for Hootie and the Blowfish, but Lalas then went solo with the album Ginger in 1998.

Speaking to Sports Business Daily in 2006 while working as a general manager for the AEG-owned MetroStars, he said he felt football had a lot to learn from the rock world.

"It's concerts, it's music," he said. "Putting people in the seats and giving them something that makes them say, 'Wow'. I've always been able to see the rhythm and the music of the game of soccer and the marriage of those two things I think is going to increase."

He added: "Unfortunately we're producing a generation of athletes that fail to recognise that they are in an entertainment industry and, from an early age, I understood that myself and my team were out there to perform and put on a show."

Slaven Bilic

When he arrived in England with West Ham in 1996, Bilic revealed that he played the guitar and his favourite artist was Bruce Springsteen.

After his retirement, he found time to indulge his passion for music as rhythm guitarist in the metal band Rawbau. In 2005, while he was working as Croatia's Under-21 manager, the band - signed to Croatia's Dallas Records - announced plans to gig in London.

Even taking charge of the senior side did not derail his passion for music - Rawbau's Vatreno ludilo, or Fiery Madness, was Croatia's official Euro 2008 song.

Bilic may have taken inspiration from his 1998 World Cup team-mate Igor Stimac, who had success singing and playing guitar as part of the band The Bohems. Their single, called Mary and Katie, was No. 1 in his homeland for four months. "I think the sales were really down to Croatia doing well in the tournament rather than my voice," Stimac admitted.

Tomas Brolin

Tomas Brolin was already something of a laughing stock in England due to his corpulent frame, but he still had respect in his native Sweden.

That began to ebb away with his post-football career, which has involved promoted vacuum cleaner nozzles and skin products as well as launching his own footwear range, named Brolin Shoes.

In 1999, he teamed up with Sweden-based It's My Life singer Dr Alban as well as five-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg and his coach, Mathias Frisk, to form the group Friends in Need. Their single, Alla vi or All of Us, hit the top 20 in Sweden, but it did little to enhance Brolin's reputation.

The video was banned by Swedish TV for featuring "too many breast implants and too few clothes", while critic Per Bjurman, writing in Aftonbladet, said the song was "monumentally stupid and cheap, in its lyrics, melody and arrangement", adding that "the video, if anything, is even more stupid". He was not alone in savaging the track.

Marcus Christensen of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper defended Brolin, saying he deserved a break, but he added: "He has been pushing it a bit lately. We're worried that he'll start opening supermarkets soon."

Frisk said Borg had come up with the idea for the band while they were sitting around playing music and "joking a bit", while Brolin explained that he had already been "friendly" with Dr Alban. "We were slaughtered by the press, but that's the way it goes," he said.

Andy Cole

Following the 1999 Treble success with Manchester United, Cole released a single - a cover of The Gap Band's Outstanding - that September. "United forever / Whatever the weather / Less than 100%? Never!" he rapped. It entered the charts at No. 68 before dropping out of sight.

When he signed up for his brief and uneventful stint with hometown club Nottingham Forest in 2008, there was a Facebook campaign to get the record back into the charts, and DJs in the city vowed to give it some fresh airtime.

Cole, though, told the Nottingham Evening Post he had no plans to revive his music career: "I was a great deal younger when I made Outstanding and I can categorically say it will represent my one and only attempt to make an impression in the world of music."

Carlos Tevez

When not scoring goals or talking about retirement, Tevez forms part of the band Piola Vago. A cumbia villera group, the style is apparently a shanty town version of Colombian folk-and-dance music.

Set up with his brother Diego and some of their childhood friends from Fort Apache, the band have sold thousands of records in Argentina and there was talk a while back of a covers album to crack the UK market. Bananarama's Robert De Niro's Waiting, Gloria Jones' Tainted Love and Elton John's I'm Still Standing were said to be lined up for the tracklist.

They released an album in 2005 - Los Pibes Del Barrio, or The Lads from the Neigbourhood - but, during his time at West Ham, he refused to let his team-mates listen to it. "Here it's all hip-hop, all in English, so they don't understand a thing," he said. "They want to hear it, they ask me, but I say no to them."

He'd seemingly softened his stance by the time of his move to Manchester United at the end of the 2006-07 season, as Owen Hargreaves hailed the group's "good beat", and Lionel Messi is apparently a big fan, advising him that, "after football, Carlito can make it big in music".

Ryan Babel

In 2005, Babel, who raps under the name Rio, featured on Lange Frans & Baas B's 1-2tje on the album Het Land Van. In 2008, he brought Royston Drenthe along for the ride, the duo teaming up with Rotterdam rapper U-Niq to deliver Tak Taki.

The same year, alongside rappers Darryl and Ali B plus Thai boxer Soumia, Babel broke the top 40 with the single Eeyeeyo. In 2009, Mercury-nominated British rapper Sway confirmed plans to include Babel on his forthcoming album.

"He's a sick rapper," Sway told the BBC. "The way he flips his flow is marvellous, man, so I wanted him to do a bit - half Dutch, half British - and he really pulled it off, man. I think it's a track that people are gonna like."

Babel, incidentally, joined the Ajax youth academy in 1998, where he bore witness to the birth of the club's first supergroup, featuring Benni McCarthy, Mario Melchiot and Dean Gorre. BMD, as they were known, released an R&B track called Midas Touch at the end of the year.

McCarthy brought the experience to BMD, having already had a hit in South Africa alongside rapper TKZee with the single Shibobe, which sold 180,000 copies. Gorre was the group's lead singer, though. "I came from a musical family, although they wouldn't let me sing at home," he said.

In spite of their vocal limitations, Melchiot felt the BMD project was worthwhile. "It went off really well, and after that we were invited to appear on television, twice on a children's channel and also on a prime-time evening show frequented by stars like Janet Jackson and Diana Ross, so we were in good company," he said.

Honourable mentions

The list above is sadly by no means comprehensive, so honourable mentions must also be made to the likes of John Barnes, Clint Dempsey, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Roque Santa Cruz and Martin Buchan.


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