As Fabio Capello looks to make his final selections for the England squad that will head out to contest the World Cup in South Africa, the UK Talent Team have been considering how the football players’ talents on the pitch could have been put to good use in other Olympic sports if their football careers hadn’t worked out.
Ian Yates of the UK Talent Team, outlines some of the key attributes of some of England’s potential line-up and how they could have transferred their talents into other Olympic sports.
David James – Handball: “David’s 6’5” build, long limbs and brilliant reactions make him a great goalkeeper, which would transfer well into other sports requiring a keeper such as Handball. Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel started in Handball prior to committing to professional football.”
Michael Dawson and Ledley King – Canoeing: “Since both are over 6ft, powerful and show good core stability they could make good Canoeists, providing they could match Tim Brabants’ bench pull of over 120 kilos. Having played well together for Tottenham they could have the type of partnership needed in a K2 boat.”
Tom Huddlestone – Rowing: “Tom’s 6’3’’ build makes him a great candidate for rowing. His height, broad-shoulders and long arms gives him a perfect body type for the sport. This matched with his large aerobic capacity as a central midfield player could make Tom a great rower.”
Joe Cole – Hockey: “Joe came out as the fittest all-round player in Chelsea FC’s latest fitness tests. He also has great visual and spacial awareness, allowing him to read the game and exploit opportunities on the pitch. This skill-set could serve him well in the midfield of a Hockey team.”
Theo Walcott – Bob Skeleton: “Theo’s blistering acceleration would certainly transfer well onto the track in athletics and if he could run 30m in under four seconds his talent could be put to good use on the ice, where a quick start is essential for bob skeleton.”
James Milner – Athletics: “As a midfield player James’ ability to cover a lot of ground during 90-minutes and yet still have enough in the tank for that all important short burst, could make him a strong middle distance runner. Football players tend to cover a similar distance (30km – 40km) every week in matches and training as middle distance runners would.”
Peter Crouch – Volleyball: “At 6’7”, Peter’s height lends itself to volleyball. He would certainly have the size to be a successful middle blocker as his total reach is likely to be over 2.5m. This along with a strong ability in the air could see him prevent a lot of opponents scoring points.”
Wayne Rooney – Cycling: “Wayne’s explosive power, speed and natural aggression would equip him well for a sport like track cycling. These attributes should see him produce the level of cadence and wattage required, but whether he could match the kind of power that Sir Chris Hoy can crank out during a six-second bike test, over 2000 watts, is another question!”
The UK Talent Team is a working collaboration between UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport with the remit of supporting the National Governing Bodies of targeted Olympic and Paralympic sports to identify, confirm and develop talented athletes.
‘Pitch2Podium’ is an exciting talent transfer programme created by the UK Talent Team and our partners within the football and rugby authorities, to provide young football and rugby players who have been unsuccessful in securing a professional contract, with a second chance opportunity to succeed in a new Olympic sport. Talent transfer is the re-assignment of athletes across sports which have similar and transferable talent characteristics
Find out more about the work of the UK Talent Team, or for football and rugby academy players interested in Pitch2Podium.