Special Feature: Footballers Turned Poker Stars

The career of many professional sportsmen and women is not long lasting, especially those that involve being at the peak of physical fitness to keep ahead of the rest and on top of their game. The time comes, all too soon for some, when bowing out gracefully is the logical thing to do, leaving a gap to be filled where once there was achievement, competition, admiration and money.

Some like to spend their time with family or resting on their laurels, enjoying the fruits of their labour. Some will make the most of a freedom that many won’t have experienced for many years, due to strict exercise regimes and commitment to a team or club, sometimes even their country. Or, some may play poker!

What else keeps the dynamo ticking for those who have a lust for competition, a need for thrills and a love of winning a huge jackpot prize? Poker has all the elements that the ex-sports person has experienced on a professional level throughout their working career.

Footballers in particular appear to be choosing poker as both a way in which to spend their free time or as a chosen second career path once they have hung up their boots for the last time. Already used to glamour and affluence, they find this again in the poker world, and combining their skills with luck, rather like they once did on the field, it makes perfect sense as to why poker is attracting more and more footballers from all over the world.

Two highly regarded footballers who are finding success with poker are the UK’s Teddy Sheringham and Gianluigi Buffon from Italy. Buffon, who still plays for Juventus, plays poker in his free time, whilst retired Sheringham has made somewhat more of a second career out of playing poker, although he also began playing while he was still very much the professional footballer.

Teddy Sheringham kicked of his football career way back in 1982 and played at some of England’s most respected clubs during his 26-year career. Nottingham Forest, Tottenham and Manchester United are just a few of the clubs that had the honour of having one the best strikers of the time play for them.

Along with three more of the country’s top strikers, those being Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, Sheringham had his most successful season during 1998-1999, playing alongside them for Manchester United. During this time they won the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup, earning the nickname of the Fantastic Four. During that season, they were well and truly unbeatable.

Teddy also achieved many accolades for his clubs, winning practically every domestic competition that he entered along with his teammates. Before retiring from football in 2008, Teddy looked to have already set up himself up as a serious poker player, playing in his spare time and getting involved in the celebrity poker playing circuit.

Not just good on the pitch, he has proved himself to be quite a star at the poker table too, his achievements include winning himself €93,121 while playing at the European Poker Tour No Limit Hold‘em’ main event in Portugal, his biggest win to date, and also achieving fourteenth place in the World Series of Poker Europe main event, where he won $66,000. Here is one man who didn’t for one moment ‘think it’s all over’ when he retired from football!

‘Superman’ Gianluigi Buffon is another professional footballer who is quietly making a name for himself playing poker. Buffon plays for Italian club Juventus and also played for Italy when they won the World Cup in 2006. As a talented goalkeeper, he has captained Juventus and Italy during his career and has earned endless decorations for his outstanding achievements.

Winning cup competitions, domestic leagues, the Serie A goalkeeper award a stunning eight times, the list just goes on and on for this talented player. Gigi has a lust for life and has also it seems, a lust for poker. However, he is not quite as accomplished as Teddy Sheringham at this stage, possibly due to the time he has free to devote to playing. Nevertheless Gianluigi is an avid and reputable player on the poker scene.

Both Teddy Sheringham and Gianluigi Buffon have played on Team PokerStars along with some of the top names in poker, including Jonathan Duhamel, Victoria Coren and Chris Moneymaker.

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