Premier League Unrecognisables XI: From the aspiring monk who became an agent to the Swedish Master Chef winner
THE Premier League has had its share of players who have been distinct for their performances on the pitch and their looks off it.
But there are some ex-stars from the biggest clubs who fans would struggle to recognise at all today.
There are those who have traded long, flowing hair for hipster beards, and one who has even ditched his crop for dreadlocks.
This is our Premier League Unrecognisables XI.
Goalkeeper: West Brom (2004-07), Man Utd (2007-12)
This Polish goalkeeper stood out for his bleached blonde hair during his playing days.
But at the Qatar World Cup he was rocking a new, and far tidies, brunette look.
He joined West Brom from Hertha Berlin in 2004 and enjoyed three solid years in the West Midlands.
He then signed for Man Utd in 2007 after a successful loan spell.
Though appearances proved sporadic for him, he did achieve three Premier League titles and a Champions League win in 2008, as well as famously saving a penalty against Arsenal on Debut.
The goalkeeper left Man Utd in 2011 and would continue a successful career in the Championship with Watford, Brighton, Wolves and Birmingham before retiring in 2019.
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Since retiring, he says he still supports Man Utd and has a season ticket at Old Trafford.
Have you guessed who it is yet? The answer is Tomasz Kuszczak.
Left-back: Arsenal (2006-11), QPR (2011-16)
This left-back spent four years at Arsenal with the likes of Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas but only made 13 Premier League appearances.
In a remarkable change of look, he is now rocking dreadlocks.
The Frenchman played more times for Portsmouth during a loan spell in 2008 than he ever did for the Gunners.
He was also able to enjoy a loan to Italian giants Juventus in 2010.
It was after leaving Arsenal that he would begin to secure himself first team football, as he played 87 Premier League games for Queens Park Rangers, scoring two goals.
Championship spells with Nottingham Forest and Cardiff followed before his retirement in 2020.
You must have had the memory of an elephant if you got this one. The answer is Armand Traore.
Right-back: Arsenal (2000-04), Fulham (2004-09)
This German made just one appearance for Arsenal, in a League Cup defeat to Sunderland in 2002.
But that wouldn’t stop him enjoying a long, fruitful career in the Premier League as he moved to Fulham.
He would make 125 Premier League appearances at Craven Cottage before moving on in 2009.
Spells at St Pauli and 1860 Munich would follow before he hung up his boots in 2015.
However, he would stay in football to become assistant at RB Leipzig and then Galatasaray.
The answer is Moritz Volz.
Centre-back: Newcastle (1994-99)
An easy one for any true Geordie.
A goalscoring Belgian centre-back who joined from Anderlecht in 1994.
He netted eight times in 96 Premier League appearances for the Toon, with the most famous being an incredible left-footed lob in a 5-0 win over Man Utd.
He is now working as a pundit for Belgian TV and owns his own fruit and veg company.
The answer, of course, is Philippe Albert.
Centre-back: Man Utd (1994-2003)
This boyhood Man City fan would become a stalwart under Fergie as he won two league titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League.
Following a move from Blackburn in 1994, he made 85 Premier League appearances.
He would leave in 2003 after nine years and move to Burnley.
In 2006, he retired after two years with non-league Bacup Borough.
The defender admits that his post-Man Utd days were tough, even telling a United podcast that he went on a 12-day binge and shared a £200 bottle of champagne with a tramp after leaving Old Trafford.
And despite all his achievements at United, he was briefly blocked from entering the Old Trafford pitch for a half time show as a steward didn’t know who he was.
We assume Man Utd fans will do better. The answer is David May.
Left-wing: Man Utd (1998-2001), Everton (2001-02), Charlton (2002-03)
Champions League winner, cult hero and… Master Chef.
This former winger won the Swedish edition of the show earlier this year.
And with his own pizzeria in Stockholm, he may one day end up better known for his flair in the kitchen than on the wing.
Back in 1998, he joined from Parma as a backup to Ryan Giggs and scored his only goal for Man Utd in a 4-1 win at Everton.
Far from just earning a Champions League medal though, this winger actually started in the final and missed a golden chance in the clash with Bayern Munich before being replaced by Teddy Sheringham.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The answer is Jesper Blomqvist.
Right-wing: Man Utd (2003-08), Burnley (2008-11), Bolton (2011-14)
An impressive academy prospect who was a member of the Man Utd squad that won the Premier League and Champions League in 2008.
He made six league appearances for the Red Devils and went on to enjoy a very fruitful top flight career with Burnley and Bolton.
These days, the former flyer is maybe better known for his relationship with actress Jennifer Metcalfe.
And he proved to be a very lucky man when the Hollyoaks star took him back after he was banned from driving after being found shoeless having drunk three times over the limit.
The name you are looking for is Chris Eagles.
Central midfield: Man Utd (1998-2001), Middlesbrough (2001-04), West Brom (2004-10), Fulham (2010-11)
This Man Utd star was noticeable for his distinct curly hair when he came through the academy.
But he would stand out even more today after being seen with a long hipster beard.
After leaving Man Utd in 2001 with a Champions League winners medal he would go on to enjoy a long and distinct career at the highest level.
Though never quite making the England squad, he was part of United coach Steve McClaren’s Middlesbrough squad as they won the League Cup in 2004.
And from there he would go on to enjoy six years as a key man for West Brom.
Spells at Fulham, Nottingham Forest, Barnsley, York City and Tadcaster Albion would follow before he hung up his boots in 2017.
But he has since got into management with Scarborough Athletic, who he guided to promotion to the National League North last season.
The man behind the beard is Jonathan Greening.
Central midfield: Blackburn (1998-2003, 2007-15), Birmingham (2003-07)
This former England international spent the best part of two decades at the highest level.
Coming through the Blackburn academy in 1998, he enjoyed five years at the club with his form so impressive that he played for England against Portugal in 2002.
Once dubbed “the New Gazza”, he would make a move to Birmingham in 2003 where he struggled with injuries.
In 2007, he would return to Blackburn, where he would thrive for a further eight years, before moving to Oldham and retiring in 2016.
He has had a variety of different professions since hanging up his boots.
Coaching appears to have been his first passion as he managed Oldham Athletic and Barrow, while also taking roles at Blackpool and back at Blackburn.
However, at one point he also became part of former Rovers star Garry Flitcroft’s eco-construction company, Flitcraft.
He might not be quite as well known as Gazza, but Blackburn fans are sure to get this one right. It’s David Dunn.
Striker: Sheffield Wednesday (1996-99), Aston Villa (1999-2000), Bradford (2000-02)
In 1996, this Inter Milan striker, famous for his flowing long hair, made the bizarre move to Sheffield Wednesday.
In his three years with the Owls, he would be upstaged at times by fellow Italian Paolo di Canio, but he was no less effective as he won the Fans’ Player of the Year award after finishing top scorer in 1999.
A move to Aston Villa would follow after a contract struggle at Hillsborough.
A season later he moved to Bradford City where he would become a club legend on and off the pitch.
Despite Carbone’s memorable goals, the Bantams were relegated in 2001 and fell into financial trouble.
Then in 2002 he endeared himself to the Valley Parade faithful when he forfeited £3.2m after being told the club would fold if they continued to pay him £40,000 a week.
He said in 2013: “I hadn’t earned anything like the amounts on offer in the Premier League today and I had a young family.
“But when I thought about it, there was only one choice I could make. I couldn’t be the person who put Bradford City out of business.”
Now, however, he looks every bit management material as he rocks a stylish beard and short grey hair in his role as Azerbaijan assistant.
The man you are looking for is Benito Carbone.
Striker: Chelsea (2004-05)
Before he rocked the fisherman look, this Serbian striker arrived to huge fanfare at Stamford Bridge after firing 35 goals to win PSV the title and guiding Guus Hiddink’s side to the Champions League semi-final.
Such was the faith Jose Mourinho had in him that he was handed the Chelsea number nine shirt.
However, he would go on a grim run of just four goals in 24 appearances.
Moves to the likes of Atletico Madrid, Fenerbahce, PSG and Zenit St Petersburg would follow his departure from West London in 2005.
But only his spell at Fenerbahce, where he scored a goal every other game, could truly be described as a success.
Covered in religious tattoos, the devout Orthodox Christian once said he harboured dreams of becoming a monk.
However, fate would give him a different, and less sanctified, role for him.
He would become one of the Balkans’ most influential football agents, representing, among others, perennial Man Utd and Arsenal transfer target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Mateja Kezman is the man the Lazio midfielder will be looking to to get him a top move.
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