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General: The greatest career changes in sport

Former France and Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf turned 54 on Saturday and he has enjoyed a colourful career since hanging up his boots in 2005.

Leboeuf was a renowned and elegant central defender in his day, helping France to World Cup and European Championship glory at the turn of the century, as well as playing a significant role in establishing Chelsea on the European football map in the pre-Roman Abramovich era.

It is certainly a playing career worth celebrating, but Leboeuf has also enjoyed plenty of success since retiring and has turned his hand to several new occupations.

Leboeuf may have a theory of everything

Even before retiring from professional football, Leboeuf was dipping his toes in other areas, most notably acting, making an appearance in the 2001 biographical film Taking Sides.

Leboeuf continued to pursue acting and moved to Los Angeles after retiring to study at the renowned Lee Strasberg Institute before going on to star in several French films and plays.

The towering central defender, who formed a formidable partnership with Marcel Desailly during his playing days for both club and country, was very much off the grid to a British audience until, to the surprise of many, he appeared as a doctor in the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything alongside Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

More recently Leboeuf has turned his hand to singing, appearing in the French version of the Masked Singer in 2019 as a Peacock, and he certainly did not disgrace himself, finishing a respectable fourth.

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From wrestling to law enforcing

Leboeuf is not the only former professional footballer to have turned his hand to acting, with Eric Cantona and Vinnie Jones enjoying plenty of success in that field, while the cameo appearances of David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Alan Shearer in the film Goal! are perhaps less notable.

However, it is not just acting that ex-pros have taken up upon retiring, with former German international goalkeeper Tim Wiese having turned his hand to wrestling, while former Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie and ex-Sheffield United midfielder Curtis Woodhouse both enjoyed success in the ring as boxers.

It is easy to understand the leap from one sport to another, but other former footballers have done a complete 360 in their career change, including former Wigan Athletic defender Arjan de Zeeuw, who is now a detective, specialising in forensics, in his native Holland.

Former England international Stuart Ripley, who won the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers in 1995, has also shown he has brains as well as brawn, as he is now a practicing solicitor after becoming qualified in 2010.

And what about former Chelsea and Southampton defender Ken Monkou, who as well as dipping his toe in media work, also runs a pancake house in the Dutch city of Delft - not exactly an ideal pre-match meal for a footballer, but certainly a fun career change.

Wiggins the social worker and many more

Former cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins is one of the most decorated sportspersons in British history, winning eight Olympic medals during his career, including five golds, as well as becoming the first-ever UK winner of the Tour de France in 2012.

However, Wiggins has always been vocal about his interests away from cycling, including his love for music and rugby league, while in 2019 he revealed he is studying to become a social worker.

It is not just British sports stars that have enjoyed career changes, as in America there have been numerous former athletes turning their hands to many fields, including acting, politics and business.

Karl Malone is perhaps a prime example, with the former NBA star having ventured into wrestling, acting, as well as numerous business opportunities including as a truck driver at his ranch in Louisiana - pretty apt for someone nicknamed 'the mailman' during his playing days.

Swimmer Maya DiRado also has an eye for business, and after winning four medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016, including gold in the 200M backstroke, she retired from the sport and took a job working as a business analyst for McKinsey & Co. in Atlanta.

Clearly a shrewd customer, DiRado could be set to go far on her new career path, as she also recently graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Management Science and Engineering.

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