Footballer or teacher? The stars who could do both

Footballers – they’re good eggs, you know.

Some of them have been giving up their time to help children doing school lessons from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of BBC Bitesize’s daily lessons, Watford captain Troy Deeney has been helping kids analyse literature, Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard has shown how to calculate the area of a football pitch in just under 20 seconds and, on Thursday, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will be teaching Spanish.

So do footballers make good teachers? Well, on the pitch, they can process a lot of information in a high-pressure situation to make quick decisions in big games – and off it, many players can speak several languages, among other talents.

Let’s take a look at a few candidates for the classroom…

Romelu Lukaku – languages

I’ve mentioned in the past that football is an international language – but when your team is made up of so many different nationalities, it probably helps to be multi-lingual.

Romelu Lukaku can reportedly speak eight, yes, eight languages now. There’s English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Dutch and Lingala, a Congolese dialect of Swahili that he often used to chat with Yannick Bolasie when he was at Everton.

After transferring to Inter Milan from Manchester United in 2019, he seems to have picked up Italian quickly too.

“It’s important for me as a player that they [my team-mates] understand me perfectly,” Lukaku has said. “How I want the ball; where I want the ball – in front of the defender, beside the defender, behind the defender.”

Vincent Kompany – business studies

Vincent Kompany is a man who takes care of business – the four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups kind of business.

In a quite satisfying case of nominative determinism, the former Manchester City captain – now Anderlecht’s player-manager – also has a master’s degree in business administration, which he obtained in 2017.

Frank Lampard – Latin

One for the classicists: ‘Super’ Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s manager, all-time leading scorer and children’s author, was famous during his playing days for his intelligent passing and runs into the box. He’s clever off the field too.

Lampard has 12 GCSEs at A or A* – the highest two grades you could get back then – including an A in Latin. Polymath.

In 2009, he took an IQ test and came out with a score of “well over 150”, according to Chelsea’s then-club doctor Bryan English, which puts him in the top 0.5% of the world’s population.

Andrey Arshavin – fashion design

OK, so you’re not likely to find this on the core curriculum, but I couldn’t compile this list without mentioning the academic accomplishments of former Arsenal striker Andrey Arshavin.

In a 2009 interview with London’s Evening Standard newspaper, Arshavin revealed that he once wrote a thesis on a suit that doubled up as sportswear, and created a clothing line that was very popular with women in his native Russia.

Arshavin studied clothes design at university in St Petersburg. I wonder if he ever had any responsibility for some of Arsenal’s dodgier away kits?

Duncan Watmore – maths

In 2015, Sunderland winger Duncan Watmore became only the second Premier League player to get a first-class degree, after graduating in economics and business management at Newcastle University.

The Black Cats might have benefited from some of his economic nous as they dropped from the top flight to League One in two seasons, with relegation in 2017 and 2018.

Still, he would have had no trouble working out the consequences of deciding League One on a points-per-game basis this week. No promotion chance for Sunderland this year – maybe next season…

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