It is normal to expect people to love their profession. However, it may surprise you to find out some footballers who don’t like football.
Is it necessary to actually love football in order to play professionally? You may think that in order to succeed, athletes would need to be somewhat smitten with their chosen sport. In contrast to the overwhelming majority of their contemporaries, there are those professionals who, for whatever reason, aren’t nearly as fixated on the beautiful game. It’s inconceivable to many of us ardent football fans that certain top athletes don’t day in and day out live and breathe the game. For them, it’s just a job, and during their downtime, they shut off and think about other things, which, to be honest, is probably pretty good.
Without further ado let’s take a look at 20 footballers who don’t like football.
1. Marc – Andre ter Stegen
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, one of the best goalkeepers in the world and a Barcelona player, admitted his lack of knowledge of the game to El Pais in March 2020. “People laugh when I tell them I have no idea about football,” the German international was cited as saying. “I don’t watch much football unless it’s a terrific game or I’m particularly interested in one because of a friend or a relationship. When they ask me for a player’s name, I occasionally am stumped.”
2. Stephen Ireland
The former Republic of Ireland player played for Aston Villa, Newcastle United (on loan), and Stoke City after spending a couple of successful seasons with Manchester City. The retired midfielder, who reportedly acknowledged lying that he lost his grandmother to avoid international duties, wrote on a social media website in 2007: “ Football Is S**T, So Why Did I Get Stuck Doing It”?
3. Espen Baardsen
Espen Baardsen, a Norwegian international who was born in the United States, spent the late 1990s and early 2000s playing for Tottenham, Watford, and Everton in England.
After losing interest in the sport, the former goalkeeper opted to quit at the young age of 25. In May 2008, he said to The Guardian, “I got tired of football.” “Once you’ve participated in the World Cup and played in the Premier League, you’ve seen and experienced it all.
“It was dictating when and what I could do. I was intellectually dissatisfied I wanted to travel the world.”
Read Also: How To Be A Coach Without Playing Football
4 David Batty
Today, Batty no longer plays football but he is one of few footballers who don’t like the sport.
Batty told The Guardian in 2007: “The national game is boring and I’ve not been to watch any match since I finished playing. “I can never understand anybody paying to watch it, let alone going all the way across the world to see it”. FourFourTwo revealed in 2018 that Batty lives a quiet life in North Yorkshire, avoids the spotlight, and never grants interviews.
And did it really worry him that he missed the crucial penalty that would have won England the 1998 World Cup match against Argentina? You can probably guess the answer.“Football didn’t matter because as soon as we entered the locker room following the shootout, I was eager to return home and meet my children – so football didn’t matter.”
5. Bobby Zamora
Bobby Zamora is another former Tottenham player who wasn’t and probably isn’t passionate about the game. The retiring centre-forward, who earned two England caps during his prime, admitted to The Daily Mail in 2012: “I’m not a great football fan, honestly. I don’t watch sports or anything similar in the evening.”
”I’m not sure what I want to do after I finish playing but if it means watching football then I don’t want to get involved.”
6. David Bentley
David Bentley, a former Spurs teammate of Assou-Ekotto, decided to end his career in 2014 at the age of 29 after his initial passion for the sport had waned over the course of his professional career.
The former England international stated in 2014: “I’ve fallen out of love with the game.” After hanging up his boots, he went on to operate a restaurant in Marbella.
7. Benoit Assou – Ekotto
Benoit Assou-Ekotto, a former star for Cameroon and Tottenham, is one of the few professional footballers who don’t like football. In fact, he openly says that playing football is for financial gain.
“Why did I come to England, where I knew no one and couldn’t speak the language? For employment,” the former left-back remarked to The Guardian in 2010. Yes, it’s a great profession, and while I don’t say I despise football, it’s not my passion.”
8. Carlos Tevez
The Argentine forward acknowledged in October 2018 that he detests watching sports on television.
In an interview with Clarin, he stated, “If Barcelona and Real Madrid are playing each other, but there is a golf tournament on another channel, I’ll choose to watch the golf instead,” according to Marca.
“I don’t watch any television football. I simply enjoy playing and having the ball at my feet. I don’t like football and have never been a fan of it.”
9. Gareth Bale
The joke that Gareth Bale preferred a golf course over a football field endured for a while, although there was undoubtedly some truth to it. When questioned about Neymar and Kylian Mbappe by ESPN in January 2018, Bale responded, “I don’t actually watch much football. Sincerely, I’d rather watch golf.
10. Dani Alves
The most decorated footballer in history, Dani Alves, joined Barcelona again at the age of 38 and took on the role of the lowest-paid player in the group. One would think – unless you have a particular kind of affection for the game, you wouldn’t do it.
The Brazilian full-back once adamantly stated that he had no intention of continuing in the game after retiring.
He reportedly said, according to Goal, “I hate what surrounds football. “I inhabit this world, but I am not a part of it.
“I’m going to throw on a backpack after I retire from football and travel the world. It will be inevitable to watch football, but I won’t live in it.”
11. Gabriel Batistuta
One of the best strikers of the 1990s, Gabriel Batistuta, viewed football primarily as a job.
The veteran centre-forward once admitted to a TV program in Argentina, “I do not like football, it is just my profession.” This was proven to be accurate by Alessandro Rialti, who co-wrote his autobiography, in a 1999 interview with the Sunday Times, according to Eurosport.
“The crucial aspect of Batistuta is that he differs from other players. He is a very competent professional who has little interest in football.” Said Rialti.
Most people will be very surprised by this one but in reality, Ronaldinho is one of the footballers who don’t really like football. Although Ronaldinho is perhaps the most skilful football ever, he cannot handle watching a complete 90-minute game on TV.
In January 2018, The Sun reported that the Brazilian legend had said, “I don’t like to watch football, I like to play it.”
“I only watch the highlights because I can’t watch television for 90 minutes straight.”
13. Lewin Nyatanga
Despite having 34 international caps for Wales, Nytanga told us in 2019 that he and many of his professional teammates are much less enthusiastic about their sport than the general public might think.
14. Carlos Vela
Vela has spent the last four MLS seasons with LAFC after experiencing mixed results with Arsenal in England and a more fruitful run with Real Sociedad in Spain. And it seems Los Angeles is the city for him. “Between a good movie and a good football game, I prefer the movie,” he once said.
15. Christian Vieri
It wasn’t that Vieri didn’t like football; rather, it was that cricket was one of his other, more intense passions. For some who would find it surprising since he has 49 caps for Italy, the reason is that he was raised in Australia, where he developed a tremendous passion for the sport and once remarked, “I would have liked to be a cricketer. If I could get the same contract, I would stop playing football and switch to cricket.”
16. Victor Valdes
In contrast to his desire to work in the film industry, Valdes believes he was forced into playing football.
“They forced me into believing I was a fantastic goalkeeper and I had no choice but to follow that route” grumbled Barca icon Valdes, who also played for Man Utd at one point. Valdes claims he was forced into football and instead wanted to enter the film industry.
Barca legend Valdes, who also spent time at Man Utd, said: “They convinced me that I was a good goalkeeper and I had no choice but to take that path.
“It has not compensated me for the years I have suffered with those that have gone well for me. “In another life, I would dedicate myself to the cinema, to something else. Not football.”
17. Ben White
The Arsenal defender admitted: “I watch myself for analytical purposes. I might watch England, but I’m never without a task to complete. I wouldn’t simply watch a game while seated.
Growing up, I never watched a football game. Now, I still don’t. I was never watching; I was always playing it.”
18. Sylvain Distin
Another defender who is only concerned with his own game of football. “I don’t watch football on television, I don’t know the names of every player or every stadium, and I can’t recall the outcomes of the games I played two weeks ago,” said Distin.
19. Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll is also one of the footballers who don’t like football.
Carroll said that he had to “google” his new teammates after switching from Newcastle to Liverpool in 2011. He didn’t know who they were because he wasn’t very interested in football off the field.
Carroll admitted: “I had to use Google on my phone to look up who their players were when I was leaving Newcastle for Liverpool while I was on the chopper on the way down.
“I was signing and I didn’t know who my team-mates would be.”
20. Michael Owen
Owen, one of England’s most talented players in history, admitted he couldn’t wait to retire after coming to hate the sport. After losing confidence in front of the goal, the striker would intentionally try to avoid receiving the ball.
Owen said: “For six or seven years I came to hate football. I couldn’t wait to retire, because the one on the field wasn’t me. “I wasn’t in a position to shoot and I hid in areas of the field so that the ball wouldn’t reach me”.