A modern-day sportsperson is generally one who can be identified from afar, with an athletic frame and a bomb physique that would make Greek gods conscious. While playing professional sports is no easy task, it is also indicative that a player’s skill doesn’t necessarily have to keep them stuck to just one particular sport, creating possibilities of excelling in more than one genre altogether.
Plenty of former sportspersons have transitioned into successful post-sport careers far away from the field, but taking up the mantle of starting a new sport while already playing one professionally, or after retirement for that matter, is a whole different ball game.
For starters, it takes massive guts to be able to set aside your ‘real’ profession and risk the public remembering you by your failures in a new atmosphere altogether, while the challenges that come with a new game, teammates, and alien surroundings make this a mammoth task in itself.
So, with plenty of respect for these particular sportspersons, we recount the times that they decided to leave what they were outstanding at, to try their hand at a different sport. Here are 5 sportspersons who played multiple sports:
#5 Ivan Perisic (Football & Professional Beach Volleyball)
Ivan Perisic making his professional beach volleyball debut tonight 😱 pic.twitter.com/YQSBs2BGKM
— Coral (@Coral) June 29, 2017
Who doesn’t know about the talent of Croatian footballer Ivan Perisic? The World Cup finalist was instrumental in his country’s exploits in Russia earlier this year and even scored in an entertaining final against France that the Croats only just lost.
But did you know that Perisic is actually world-class at a sport other than football? The Inter Milan forward showed off his beach volleyball skills last summer in a professional match against Brazil where he teamed up with another player and represented his country in the sport.
He may have lost the match, but won plenty of hearts because of his genuine talent in the sport and willingness to win every point.
#4 Paolo Maldini (Football & Professional Tennis)
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Italian legend Paolo Maldini has won it all in a stellar career that saw him play more than 600 times for AC Milan and win a host of trophies with club and country.
But it’s his exploits off the field that are of interest to us today. The Italian may have retired quite a while back from professional football, but his hobby of playing tennis wasn’t about to disappear any time soon. In fact, Maldini partnered his friend Stefano Landonio and the duo actually qualified for an ATP Milan Challenger event.
The pair lost their first-round match comprehensively, but at the age of 48, it takes massive guts to even attempt such a move post-retirement. Good on you, Paolo.
#3 Michael Jordan (Basketball & Professional Baseball)
We all remember the legendary exploits of Michael Jordan – arguably the greatest player to ever enter a basketball arena. But few would recall that Jordan even took up baseball as a legitimate sport and had an extraordinary first season in an alien environment.
After retiring from the NBA, Jordan signed with the Chicago White Sox in 1994 and joined the Birmingham Barons after spring training, and performed so well that his coach asked him to consider sticking around to play in the MLB. But Jordan soon went back to playing in the NBA and won three more Championships to cement his legacy in the sport.
#2 Andrew Flintoff (Cricket & Professional Boxing)
Andrew Flintoff was one of the best all-rounders the cricketing world had ever seen, and his stock was at an all-time high in the mid-2000s. But a failed stint as captain, a battle with depression, and numerous off-field concerns cut short a career that was destined for greatness.
It is, perhaps, this feeling of unfinished business that took ‘Freddie’ all the way to the confines of a professional boxing ring in 2012 where he was scheduled to fight fellow newbie Richard Dawson.
Flintoff won the fight, but was soon subject to ridicule from the boxing fraternity over the way in which the fight was handled, and amid the controversy, the former England all-rounder decided to call it a day on boxing to pursue a career as a broadcaster in cricket.
#1 Usain Bolt (Athletics & Professional Football)
BOLT HAS HIS BRACE! ⚡
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) October 12, 2018
And finally, the one you were all expecting. Who else but Usain Bolt to round off this list of illustrious names. Bolt is perhaps the most recognizable name in all of athletics today, owing to his incredible 100m sprint record that has made history in track and field events around the world.
The Jamaican however, clearly wasn’t satisfied with just sprinting and decided to pursue a career in professional football after retiring from athletics. Recently, Bolt secured a deal with Australian side Central Coast Mariners and played his first game for the side in an invitational match at the age of 32.
There were glimpses of his electric pace throughout, but what caught the eye most was his strength in the second half, when he shrugged a defender off and scored a goal with his left foot. He scored again after a lapse in defending, and was then brought off in the 75th minute. Is there anything this man cannot do?