After finishing a glittering soccer career many players chose a life in coaching or punditry.
Former Dynamo Kiev, AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko has taken a completely different route by switching the soccer pitch for the fairways and greens of the golf course.
Shevchenko, 36, only retired from soccer last year after playing in Euro 2012 for the Ukrainian national team.
But the star striker who scored 321 goals in 648 career games has now managed to get his handicap down to two and competed as an amateur in the European Challenge Tour on Thursday at the Kharkov Superior Cup in Ukraine.
However it was a day to forget on his golfing debut, as Shevchenko hit a 12-over par 84 to leave suggestions that maybe he should have gone into coaching or punditry after playing soccer professionally for almost 20 years.
Of course Shevchenko probably know he has no chance of becoming a top professional golfer but after many years as a soccer payer, he would most probably spend his afternoons and days off on the golf course. Those jokes about PL players spending all their time on the course away from the training ground are mostly fiction.
Many Premier League players are close to scratch golfers, with the likes of Manchester City James Milner and England striker Wayne Rooney said to be very handy with a golf club.
The highlight of “Sheva’s” round was a birdie on a 132-yard par 3 but plenty of bogies put him 20 shots off the lead heading into the weekend.
It will be a miracle if Shevchenko somehow makes the cut, however you have to applaud his determination to try and become a professional golfer after excelling at the highest level of soccer for such a long period of time.
But this got me thinking about which other professional athletes have switched sports in the past. Here’s a quick list I devised:
Michael Jordan, Basketball to Baseball (then back to Basketball)
Bruce Arena, US national Soccer team to US national Lacrosse team
Jackie Robinson, Ran track and played Football before switching to Baseball
Tony Gonzalez, played Basketball and Football at UC Berkley before joining the NFL
And I’m sure there are plenty of others I’m missing. But can athletes really switch between sports and become successful or will Shevchenko’s golf career be a flash in the pan?
“We have to forget about the fact that we might have won there three, four or five times,” he added. “We have to put that to one side. This is another final, and a totally different story. We cannot afford to make one single mistake, this is a final and we cannot lose our concentration for even one minute.”
Saints will be underdogs for this one, but this trophy isn’t alien to avoiding the hands of the big boys as we’ve seen with Birmingham City, Middlesbrough, and Swansea City since the turn of the century.
Premier League leaders Chelsea face a resurgent Swansea City side which has given it fits (Watch live at 10 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
The Blues have dropped points in two of their last three Premier League matches, and also have two draws and a loss to Swans in the past three match-ups.
Swansea has won three of four in Premier League play, the lone setback a 2-1 loss to Manchester City. New manager Paul Clement has led Swans from deep in the relegation zone to four points clear of the drop zone.
Conte’s players have scored the opening goal more times than any other Premier League team this season (19) and have yet to lose (16 wins, three draws).
What they’re saying
Antonio Conte on former Chelsea assistant Clement: “He has had a great impact on the team. Also, with the transfer window, they reinforced the team, and we must pay great attention. If you watch their games against Liverpool, against Man City, you understand the difficulty of the game. I am sure my players understand this. They have worked very well to face them in the right way.”
Clement on staring down Chelsea: “I have said to the players that yes we have put ourselves in a good position, but how hard are we willing to work to make sure we continue to improve? How much do we want to avoid suffering at the end of the season? Because unless we keep winning games and progressing up the table, we are going to find ourselves in a position where we need, say, four points from the last two games of the season.”
Stamford Bridge will be the difference here, as Chelsea keeps it tight against Swans. 2-0.