Football and cricket are sports that are poles apart from each other. While both sports require 11 men to take part in a team, that is where the similarities end as football is a more physical and exhausting sport while cricket is based more on strategies and intellect.
Even though cricketers are often seen playing football as a part of their training, footballers are rarely – if ever – associated with cricket. However, there are instances when a footballer might as well have ended up as a cricketer if it weren’t for circumstances and here are six such cases…
6. Geoff Hurst
England have won the World Cup once in their history and the man who helped them win it was Sir Geoff Hurst. To this day, he remains the only footballer to have scored a hat-trick in the final of a World Cup.
However, it could have been different for him had he chosen to play cricket instead of football. Indeed, Hurst was a good player, so much that he actually has a first-class appearance for Essex but decided to focus on football and quit cricket altogether after that.
5. Gary Neville
Neville represents the class of ’92 that wowed Manchester United fans with their greatness. However, the former right-back might not have even become a footballer in an alternate reality.
In 1992, two youngsters from Greenmount CC made a name for themselves with the bat. One of them was the legendary former Australia opener Matthew Hayden while the other was future Manchester United right-back Gary Neville.
In the end, he chose football but once admitted that cricket toughened him up more than football, which is what helped him have a good career as a player in football.
4. Joe Hart
Joe Hart became famous as the shot-stopper for Manchester City in their first era under the Sheikhs. The Englishman was a reliable presence in front of the net but it could have been so much different had he wanted it to be.
He was a youngster at the academy of Worcestershire and they rated him highly there. However, he chose the beautiful game instead of the gentleman’s game and in the end, it wasn’t a bad decision at all.
3. James Milner
James Milner has gone on to become an icon for Liverpool, leaving his heart and soul on the pitch to cover every inch of grass whenever he sets foot on the pitch.
This is the type of passion that could have also made him a good cricketer and he might as well have been had he not opted to go with football. Milner played for Yorkshire at the junior level and has openly expressed his desire to join his former cricket club Horsforth CC after he retires from football.
2. Gary Lineker
You see a pattern here? All the players that have been named thus far are Englishmen. It goes to show how the birthplace of cricket and football has had an influence on its citizens.
Gary Lineker enjoyed a great career as a footballer but there was a time when many thought that he had a better chance at becoming a successful cricketer. Indeed, he was close to choosing cricket over football, having captained the Leicestershire Schools cricket team in his teenage.
1. Phil Neville
Phil Neville once admitted that cricket was his first love and choosing between the gentleman's game and football was the hardest decision of his life.
In the end, he leaned towards the latter and went on to have a decent career. However, he could have easily been a great cricket player by the looks of it. He is the youngest player ever to feature for Lancashire's second XI at the age of 15, which is a testament to how talented he was.
6 footballers who could have been cricketers...