Footballers on film

In keeping with World Cup fever, Time Out looks at how some of world’s most celebrated footballers have fared on the silver screen


1 Vinnie Jones: The ‘scowling midfield hardman’ was called many things during his football career, but they were nothing compared to the names he gets called in the movies. From the likes of ‘Muscle’ (Welcome to Graveland), ‘Juggernaut’ (X-Men 3) and ‘Mahogany’ (Midnight Meat Train), to ‘Smasher O’Driscoll’ in Strength and Honour and ‘Mad Maynard’ in EuroTrip, it’s fair to say that Hollywood hasn’t so much typecast him as chained him to an outhouse and thrown him various grades of raw meat.

2 Pelé: Brushing aside his big screen debut, A Minor Miracle – in which he and John Huston banded together to save an orphanage – and his involvement in Escape to Victory (covered elsewhere on this list, see Bobby Moore), The King’s one major thesp outing came in 1987’s Hotshot. A strange and shoddy inversion of An Officer and a Gentleman, it sees Pelé’s disgraced football legend drawn back into the game by a brash US soccerball hopeful, and revolves wholly around Tinseltown’s eternal touchstone for football movie gold: the last-minute, match-winning overhead kick.

3 Eric Cantona: Cantona is the only entry on this list who can boast of netting some decent/regular acting work and being ‘critically acclaimed’ to boot. His appearances include Lionel (described winningly in the credits as ‘un rugbyman’) in 1995’s Most Frenchly Titled Movie, Le Bonheur est dans le Pre (‘Happiness is in the Field’, mes braves), 1998’s lusty luvvie love-in, Elizabeth, where he shone (momentarily) as French ambassador Monsieur de Foix, and 2009’s underrated social realist meta-comedy Looking For Eric where he played a trumpet-tooting apparition of himself.

4 Gary Lineker: Though very much still in the sporting media limelight, you’ll notice the crisp-shilling star did have a brief fling with the cinema if you inspect his CV closely enough. And that fling occurred in the year 1993 when – for reasons known only to himself and his agent – he and ex-wife Michelle had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the Eric Idle-scripted inheritance small-print caper, Splitting Heirs. Well, once bitten...

5 Bobby Moore: Moore was the headline draw for UK audiences in footballing WWII POW boy’s own romp Escape to Victory, but it was Ipswich Town defender Russell Osman who stole the show with the endlessly quotable half-time pep talk - ‘Ere, come back, we can win this!’ Also on show were tiny Argentine playmaker Ossie Ardilles, Manchester City’s Hungarian hotshot Kazi Deyna and Ipswich’s Kevin Beattie, who played Michael Caine’s body double by dint of being blonde and slightly portly.

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