David Pye: Escape to Victory is a warning to all footballers to forget the theatrics

Vinnie Jones - footballer-turned-actor

Vinnie Jones - footballer-turned-actor

First published in Sport

DAVID Beckham’s guest appearance in an Only Fools and Horses Sport Relief special was comedy gold – Beckham and Peckham were certainly the perfect fit.

And it got me wondering whether it might be the start of a new career path for ‘Goldenballs’ now he has hung up those famous football boots for good.

No stranger to Hollywood after his stint playing for LA Galaxy, I’m sure Becks would be in demand from movie makers if he ever did want to venture onto the silver screen – just like Michael Jordan was when he quit basketball, though Space Jam hardly broke box office records.

Beckham could always call on his celebrity pal Tom Cruise if he wanted to make his switch ‘Mission Possible’.

Let’s face it, he would not be the first footballer to trade in his PFA union card for an equity one – just look at Vinnie Jones and Eric Cantona.

The former Leeds team-mates may have been chalk and cheese with regards their footballing style but their exploits in film have earned them almost as much since they called time on the beautiful game.

Jones, in particular, even moved out to Hollywood and joined the A-list set at events such as the Golden Globes and Oscars – a far cry from Plough Lane and the Wimbledon Crazy Gang.

Considering he came from an era when football team dressing rooms were smaller than a film star’s trailer, he has made a success of his new career.

With all the theatrics we see on the pitch from the modern-day footballers, there could be a plethora of potential Oscar candidates in waiting in the Premier League to follow suit – though these days they probably earn more on the pitch.

Back in Jones’ day, however, flirtations with the small and big screen were more of a rarity and some of the wooden performances were comical to watch.

Perhaps the most famous football-based film of all time has to be Escape to Victory and next Christmas when it gets its umpteenth repeat showing, just tune in and see how the likes of Pele, Bobby Moore and half the Ipswich team look like they are reading off huge cue cards. Mind you, their acting was better than Sylvester Stallone’s footballing skills – apart from that penalty save!

But in those days, it was a chance for a player to earn a few extra quid, from films to kids TV show appearances and adverts.

I remember then England captain Bryan Robson having a cameo role in my favourite show as a teenager, Jossy’s Giants, and looking so out of place it was as cringeworthy as his 1980s perm.

We’ve seen Kevin Keegan and Henry Cooper advertise Brut in the 1970s and Peter Crouch popping some Pringles in more recent times.

But my advice to those sportsmen and women thinking of learning scripts instead of tactics for a living is to copy Frank Bruno and stick to pantomime.

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