Ex-Juventus, Arsenal star-turned-Swiss watchmaker Lichtsteiner joins list of unlikely post-soccer careers

After spending 20 years as a professional footballer, former Juventus and Arsenal full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner brought his long and distinguished career to an end last season.

The former Switzerland captain spent the 2019-20 campaign with Augsburg in Germany and had originally planned to bow out after Euro 2020. However, the tournament’s postponement until this year forced the veteran to change his plans and bring forward his retirement, calling time on a playing career that landed him 16 major club trophies and two Champions League runner-up medals.

Ex-pros’ new careers: Music | Food & Drink | Art | Tech | Politics

Now 37, Lichtsteiner is forging a second career, though not one that you might instantly expect a former footballer to choose. Rather than making the obligatory move into coaching or media work, he has begun retraining as a watchmaker, starting a six-month internship with Zurich-based timepiece manufacturers Maurice de Mauriac.

“I want to do something productive,” he told Reuters. “If you are a banker, you can do that for all your life, but if you are a footballer once you hit your mid-30s, you have to find something else to do.”

Lichtsteiner is hoping to complete his first watch, the “L3 Sees Red,” from scratch during his internship before selling the piece for charity. Whether or not he continues in the watchmaking profession beyond that remains to be seen, but Maurice de Mauriac are enthusiastic about their new trainee and his prospects.

“We had lots of applications but Stephan was the most enthusiastic,” company co-owner and art director Leonard Dreifuss said, while CEO Massimo Dreifuss added: “We are aiming for a long-term partnership and will move step by step.”

Lichtsteiner becomes the latest ex-footballer to retire and retrain in another industry entirely. But he is far from the first, with players taking up roles in a diverse range of vocations — some more surprising than others.

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Music

Of course, many players have dabbled in music over the years though mainly as a sideline or passion project; an extra-curricular distraction from their day job, rather than a full-time pursuit, However, both former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse and Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta have found regular work as club night DJs since calling quits on football. Meanwhile, since being forced to retire through injury, former Porto striker Jackson Martinez has started over as a hip-hop artist in his native Colombia.

Meanwhile, former Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto briefly worked as a music producer (and even had one of his songs featured on the “Fast & Furious 8” movie soundtrack) before more recently qualifying as a fitness instructor.

Food and drink

As you might expect from a couple of cultured midfielders, both Andrea Pirlo and Andres Iniesta both have sidelines in the refined world of winemaking. Pirlo has owned a 15-acre vineyard in Brescia since 2007, while Iniesta’s family have a entire bodega set up in their home province of Albacete, Spain.

Art

Daniel Agger was known to be a fan of tattoos during his football career with the majority of his body covered in art, including a gigantic Viking-inspired mural across his entire back and “YNWA” across his knuckles in tribute to Liverpool FC. Since retiring, the Dane has qualified as a tattoo artist himself and posts semi-regular images of his handiwork on social media. In a more traditional sense, former Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Jody Craddock is now a fine artist, specialising in incredibly realistic celebrity portraiture.

Technology

Leading the field in the technology sector is former Arsenal and AC Milan midfielder Matthieu Flamini, who has dedicated his post-football career to making advances in green energy. Indeed, the Frenchman heads a pioneering biochemical company which aims, among other things, to perfect a process of manufacturing Levulinic Acid, a synthetic substitute for crude oil. On the digital side of things, former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has an interest in the tech world having created a Spanish dating app called “Hola.”

Politics

Such is his popularity in his home country that Andriy Shevchenko felt inspired to stand as a candidate in the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election. He was unable to win representation, but now he manages the Ukraine national team so in a way he still won. Romario‘s foray into politics proved a little more successful, with the former Barcelona striker getting elected to the Brazilian senate in 2014 after garnering the most votes ever received by a candidate from the state of Rio de Janeiro. However, perhaps the most successful world class striker-turned-politician on record must be George Weah, who was voted in as president of Liberia in 2018.