Wednesday 22 January 2020

What university courses could these out-of-contract footballers find through clearing?

They don’t have a club, so maybe they should move into education…

Mathieu Flamini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Joe Ledley
Mathieu Flamini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Joe Ledley

By Max McLean

For many of those students who failed to get the A level results to get into their university of choice, it’s a case of turning to clearing to look for an alternative course.

And with the start of the football season seeing numerous footballers out of contract, could any of the sport’s free agents find something there to occupy their time?

Mathieu Flamini

Biochemistry with a professional practice year at the University of Bedfordshire

Former Crystal Palace midfielder Mathieu Flamini

Ever heard the one about the defensive midfielder with a plan to save the world? If not, you’re about to.

In 2016 the BBC revealed that former Arsenal footballer Mathieu Flamini had co-founded a company, GF Biochemicals (GFB), which produces a chemical called levulinic acid (LA) which apparently had been identified by the US Department of Energy as one of the 12 key molecules that might help the world become greener.

Apparently this chemical could be used in plastics or as a substitute for oil, so a place on the University of Bedfordshire’s biochemistry course might be useful after Flamini was released by Crystal Palace earlier this summer.

The BBC report that the market could be worth £20 billion, so Flamini should have no problems paying off his student debt when he’s done helping Earth become a greener space. Thanks Mathieu!

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Philosophy at the University of Essex

Former Manchester United footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic

I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the name of the Swedish legend’s book, but what is Zlatan, and perhaps more pertinently, what does ‘I’ mean?

All this and more can be revealed to the man released by Manchester United at the end of the season at the University of Essex on their philosophy course. He scored 17 goals in his first Premier League season, but does Zlatan have free will? What goal celebration is most ethical? If a ball hits the back of the net and Zlatan isn’t there to hear it, did it go in?

Also, there’s a sitcom to be written around Zlatan living in halls of residence isn’t there? ‘Guys, please, how can Zlatan wash up if the drying rack is full?’ That’s gold.

Dimitar Berbatov

Ballet education at the Royal Academy of Dance

You could set this guy’s career to the classical music of the Romantic era and it would be seamless.

Former Fulham, Tottenham and Manchester United artist Dimitar Berbatov has been a free agent for over a year now – he scored devastating goals, but in such a style that would leave opponents applauding as if they’d spent an evening at the ballet.

And that’s where the Royal Academy of Dance’s Ballet Education programme comes in, a place where Berbatov could pirouette his way to a first, before going on to teach others how to play beautifully.

Joe Ledley

Hairdressing Management at Royal Leamington Spa College

Wales footballer Joe Ledley

Wales midfielder Joe Ledley’s beard took centre stage at Euro 2016, and quite frankly the world deserves to know how he grooms it quite so magnificently.

Take the course Joe, before going on a tour of the country sculpting beards aplenty across the land. Forget the football, beard management is the future.

Kolo Toure

History at the University of Central Lancashire

Bear with this one, because it does in fact make sense.

Kolo Toure is a man of history after he became a two-time Invincible last season. Having gone the 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten with Arsenal, the brother of Yaya proceeded to do the same thing with Celtic in the 2016/17 Scottish Premier League campaign.

Toure was released by the Scottish champions at the end of the season – where could he study his subject of choice?

Well, there’s a clearing place on the University of Central Lancashire’s history course, with Lancashire being the home of Preston North End, who famously became the first English Invincibles in 1889, by going 22 games unbeaten back in the 19th century.

Shay Given

Wildlife Conservation and Ecology at the University of Chester

And last but by no means least, an all-time Premier League great.

Shay Given spent a wonderful career saving things at clubs like Newcastle United, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Stoke City, who released him earlier this summer, so why not put all that to good use by saving vulnerable habitats and ecosystems instead?

A place on the University of Chester’s Wildlife Conservation and Ecology course might help.

Given’s large hands (and gloves) will come in handy for animal handling as he cleans up natural habitats, while his tendency to play for teams nearer the bottom of the Premier League table towards the end of his career might have prepared him for some of the less glamorous elements of cleaning up an ecosystem.

PA Media

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