Footballers make it their duty to utilise their skills and remain professional on and off the pitch to enjoy the best career possible. They earn the privilege to be considered role models by millions of children and adults who look up to them as inspiration, and also get behind them in the hope that they play well for their favourite club. It is easy to forget that footballers are the same as everyday people, such is the pedestal that the media and the money they earn puts them on, and should be allowed to enjoy a private life without being scrutinised or harassed. Although footballers have a duty to conduct themselves in the correct manner and not create controversy, certain players have taken a shine to playing casino games through nights out with their team-mates or on the bus when travelling to and from away games. Playing a few hands of card games, such as poker, are commonplace on the team bus as a form of team bonding, and it can lead to players entering the poker scene once their football career has ended as a way to receive the same adrenaline rush and drama that they enjoyed on the pitch. Former players Teddy Sheringham and Jan Molby are notable names who have enjoyed success at the poker table, while Gerard Pique and Cristiano Ronaldo are among a selection of modern day players who also like to play a few hands when time allows for it away from football. Some players have even been signed up by online casinos to act as ambassadors and to heighten their profile. This could mean that one day Steven Pienaar and Itumeleng Khune may be asked to represent Springbok or any other South African company for the same purpose. The current crop of superstars have proven themselves to have skills in both areas and would be perfect for multi-brand marketing.
The Uruguayan striker may have created his fair share of controversy on the pitch at domestic and international level, but Luis Suarez has proven his true quality since moving to Barcelona. His superb brace in the team’s emphatic 6-0 victory against Getafe illustrates the wonderful partnership he has developed at the Nou Camp alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi. Suarez is known to be an avid poker player away from the football pitch, with 888poker quick to sign Uruguay’s all-time leading goal-scorer in 2014 as a brand ambassador following a wonderful season in front of goal for Liverpool prior to his big-money move to Spain. The Barcelona star will feature in selected live events, in addition to playing regularly online on the company’s website when he not scoring more goals for club or country.
Widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, Gianluigi Buffon shows no signs of slowing down and ending his illustrious career. The –year-old has been instrumental in Juventus’ march towards a fourth consecutive Serie A title, with the Bianconeri continuing their unerring dominance of Italian football. Reaching the Champions League Quarter-Finals may present an opportunity for Buffon to end a career-long wait for major European honours which would undoubtedly be a crowning achievement for a player who could continue into his forties. Buffon may become a professional poker player in the future, with his love for cards leading to Italy’s most capped player snapped up as an international ambassador for PokerStars in 2010 and he has been seen playing online.
Being heralded as one of the best strikers to ever grace football is unarguably justified for Ronaldo who, during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, made scoring goals looks so easy. Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid are just a number of illustrious clubs that Ronaldo represented during a glittering playing career in which he was recognised as the World Player of the Year on three occasions. Ronaldo scored a total of 309 goals in 441 appearances at domestic and international level, but the Brazilian now makes headlines at the poker table as an ambassador alongside Buffon with PokerStars. He arrived in 2013 around the same time that tennis stars Rafael Nadal and Boris Becker were also signed up, with Ronaldo proving himself to have real ability at the table through impressive performances in recognised tournaments.