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Which famous footballers went to university?

Which famous footballers studied at university? We investigate.

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If you’re a football fan, you might already know some of the top players pretty well. But do you know who went to university and what they studied? We’ve done some digging to find out the educational backgrounds of some famous footballers to get you feeling inspired.



Glen Johnson

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson was a part time student at the Open University, where he was doing a distance learning programme for a maths degree. Glen said: “I was good at maths in school, but I didn’t really think of anything else but football. My teachers used to say that I wasn’t going to achieve anything. So, I was thinking that I’ll show them!”


Steve Coppell

Steve Coppell is an ex-England winger who is famous for a nine-year spell at Manchester United, where he set a club record for consecutive number of appearances. Before signing for Manchester United, Coppell began an economics degree at Liverpool University and he only agreed to move to Manchester United on the basis that he was allowed to finish his studies.



Clark Carlisle

Well-known for his brains rather than his feet, Clarke Carlisle became the first professional footballer to appear on Countdown, a game show in the UK that focuses on word and number puzzles. He was also awarded the title of ‘Britain’s Brainiest Footballer’ and has appeared on the BBC’s politic show Question Time. He has a degree in professional sports writing and broadcasting from Staffordshire University.


Oliver Bierhoff

One of Germany’s most celebrated strikers of the 90s, Olivier Bierhoff has scored 27 goals in 70 international appearances and lifted the European Championship trophy for his country at Euro 96. He earned an economics degree from the University of Hagen in Germany which he obtained through distance learning.



As the 1983 South American footballer of the year, Socrates truly lives up to his name as an impressive and iconic figure. He completed a doctorate in medicine at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil whilst also playing professionally. He then continued to practise medicine after his retirement. He also held a PhD in philosophy. It’s therefore not hard to see why Socrates is often cited as one of the most educated footballers of all time.


Edwin van der Sar

Edwin’s most prized possession is his sports management degree which he obtained from the Johan Cruyff Institute in Barcelona after he hung up his gloves. On the back of his degree, Edwin secured a role at his former club Ajax as director of marketing and he said: “You thought as a player you had it tough but it’s nothing compared to working in an office doing a proper job.”



Arsene Wenger

Nicknamed Le Professeur, Arsene Wenger has a reputation for a studious approach to football and meticulous management. He was the longest serving manager of the Arsenal football team from 1996-2018, and now holds the title as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development. The Frenchman has a master’s in economics from the University of Strasbourg and speaks seven languages, having worked in France, Japan, and England.


Juan Mata

A Spanish footballer currently playing as a midfielder for Manchester United, Juan Mata is also part of the Spain national team. He initially studied journalism at the Polytechnic University of Madrid before doing onto obtain two degrees in sports science and marketing. He did so alongside playing for Valencia and Chelsea football teams. He proves that it is possible to study while still chasing a dream.


Vincent Kompany

A retired Belgian footballer who played centre back for the team he now manages, RSC Anderlecht. He also played as centre-back for the UK premier league club, Manchester City, where he gained the title as team captain at just age 24. On top of his successful football career, Vincent also earned a Master’s in Business Administration from the Alliance Manchester Business School.


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