Premier League - Countdown of clever footballers

Eurosport - Tue, 23 Feb 12:29:00 2010

Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle appears on quiz show Countdown on Wednesday, where he will attempt to dispel the myth that footballers are, er, educationally challenged.

2009-2010 Burnley Clarke Carlisle - 0

The 30-year-old said he fulfilled a "lifelong ambition" when he recorded his appearance earlier this month.

Carlisle is a notable egghead, having won Britain's Brainiest Footballer back in 2002, and expectations are high ahead of his appearance on the words and letters game, presented by Jeff Stelling.

He said: "It was fantastic. I know it's a bit geeky but it's fulfilled a lifelong ambition for me.

"I am used to playing football and I have a routine for match day that copes with nerves and anxiety.

"But sitting in front of that studio in front of the Countdown clock, Jeff and all the lights I was so nervous."

Here are some more footballers with more than their fair share of brain cells.

- Carlisle is not the first player to go on Countdown. That honour goes to Neil MacKenzie, formerly of Notts County, who won five games on the trot in 2008, before eventually losing in the quarter-finals.

- Tony Adams's recovery from alcoholism saw him transform from a lager-swilling thug to football's ultimate renaissance man. Although the former Arsenal captain failed as a manager, he was appointed a guest editor of Radio Four's highbrow Today programme over the Christmas period.

- Queen of the South midfielder Ryan McCann found the absence of a TV acted as a springboard into German philosophy. McCann said: "As daft as it sounds, I never even had a telly in my flat - and you don't know how much you miss it until you don't have one. When it's not there you end up reading a lot of Nietzsche and things like that."

- Frank Lampard dispelled the myth that public schoolboys are all spoilt, feckless wasters by passing 12 GCSEs, including an A* in Latin, when at Brentwood School. And earlier this year it was reported he has an IQ above 150 - enough to qualify for Mensa and higher than Carol Vorderman's IQ which, judging by her recent performances on TV panel shows, may well be in single figures.

- Matthew Lawrence turned professional in 21, having completed a degree in American Literature at Hartwick College in the US. He went on to write a column in the Daily Mirror, featuring literary gems such as: "Bleach, bleach, bleach, where for art thou??" He now plays for Crystal Palace.

- Jean Tigana, who used to smatter his team talks with bons mots from the greats of French literature when Fulham manager. One player, on seeing Tigana reading a book by Marcel Proust, reportedly exclaimed: "Proust? I thought he was a Formula One driver."

- Former Barcelona man Oleguer Presas is arguably better at writing than football. The economics graduate's first book dealt with subjects such as childhood anorexia, the antifascist struggle and the Gulf War. He then courted controversy by questioning the validity and independence of legal and judicial processes in the Spanish state. Just don't get stuck next to him at a dinner party.

- Before becoming a professional TV oddity, Derek Acorah (then Derek Johnson) was on the books at Liverpool. Depending on how credulous you are, Derek Acorah can either speak to ghosts, or is extremely adept at making gullible famous people jump. Whichever way you look at it, anyone who can get rich off nonsense like 'Michael Jackson: The Live Seance' must have something between the ears.

- Iain Dowie had all but given up hope of becoming a professional footballer after being rejected by Southampton as a 16-year-old, so began to study at the University of Hertfordshire for a master's degree in Aeronautic Engineering. On completion of his degree, he became an employee of British Aerospace before moving into football, and uses motivational books like 'Beyond Winning' and 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' in his managerial career.

- After Gudni Bergsson left Bolton in 2003, the defender began to study to become a lawyer, which he took up full-time after his retirement. He is also the president of the Former Players Association, in addition to his roles as a youth scout and presenter for Icelandic TV show '4-4-2'.


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