Footballers are only human, and they love making fools of themselves on reality TV just like us normal folk. Sometimes it’s TV gold, sometimes it’s a disaster for everyone involved.
Football FanCast takes a look at the top ten times footballers have appeared on reality TV.
Dancing on Ice, 2006
If there is one thing we like making celebrities do, it’s dance for us. Dancing on Ice adds the extra element of literally being on ice, a concept ex-England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman was more than happy to get involved with.
Seaman was a fairly safe pair of hands back on his day, excluding that infamous lob from Ronaldinho at the 2002 World Cup, but he wasn’t particularly known for being any good with his feet. He was injured while attempting a move called the ‘headbanger’ during rehearsals.
In typical Seaman spirit though, he powered through, being eliminated just before the final. He continued to do live shows, where he would eventually meet his current wife, Frankie Poultney. So, all in all, it did have a happy ending.
Hell’s Kitchen, 2009
Zimbabwean goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar is no stranger to controversy. Having been accused of match-fixing during his time at Liverpool – an allegation that Grobbelaar disputes to this day – he must have felt right at home with celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White in Hell’s Kitchen.
Grobbelaar surprised many by being one of the stand-out performers of the show, impressing the man who mentored Gordon Ramsay, along with his fellow competitors. In the end, he decided to leave the show on his own terms, saying that he missed his wife too much and would rather be with her.
Pierre-White implored him to stay, but it wasn’t enough. We like to think Grobbelaar kept up with cooking, making his wife a tasty homemade meal every night in a quaint cottage somewhere. All the best, Bruce.
L’isola dei Famosi, 2021
Our very own Gazza has quite the cult following over in Italy following his spell at Lazio between 1992-95. So much so, he was asked to be a contestant on L’isola dei Famosi – Italy’s version of ‘Survivor’ in 2021.
Unfortunately, Gazza was forced to pull out of the show following a shoulder dislocation during one of the trials. He could be seen grimacing and waiting for medical staff just after. He continued with a sling around his arm, but was forced to retire after problems persisted.
Despite his injury, Gazza was looking well and in fine form amongst his fellow competitors. The teary reunion shows just how much of a beloved personality he truly is. It’s good to see Gazza doing well!
The Farm, 2004
Channel 5’s The Farm was a short-lived reality TV show that pitted celebrities together to see who would come out at ‘top farmer’ between the years of 2004-2005. Unsurprisingly, there were only two seasons, with ex-Liverpool player Collymore featuring in the first.
He didn’t last long. Collymore walked away from the show, not because it was ridiculous, but because he fell out with rapper Vanilla Ice.
Collymore has since stayed away from reality TV, which is probably for the best. We wouldn’t want to see him get in a scrap with Fred Durst in a hairdresser’s.
Celebrity Big Brother, 2018
Jermaine Pennant is on the long list of footballers from the early 2000s who didn’t live up to their potential. He played for some of the biggest clubs in the country, such as Liverpool and Arsenal, but never really made it. Still, he’s used to a certain type of lifestyle, and one way to keep that up is through reality TV.
In 2018, Pennant was on Celebrity Big Brother, flirting and kissing glamour model Chloe Ayling while his wife was at home. It’s almost as though he didn’t realise the entire premise of the show was being recorded at all times of the day.
It didn’t end there. Determined to save his marriage, Pennant took his wife onto the Jeremy Kyle show. His foolproof plan didn’t work though, and Alice Goodwin left him after nine years of “ups and downs”.
Neil Ruddock, John Fashanu, Carlton Palmer and Frank Worthington
Come Dine With Me, 2010
Football in the 90s was pretty wild. The introduction of the Premier League in 1992 meant piles of money became available to clubs so they could bring in the best talent from all around the world, but players like Neil Ruddock, John Fashanu and Carlton Palmer were still knocking about. Frank Worthington was player-coach of his hometown team, Halifax Town, at the time.
As it turns out, these four produced some very good TV. They got on really well, they were funny, and made some pretty tasty-looking food. There was fancy dress, and Neil Ruddock appeared with nothing but an apron on. It’s pretty much exactly how you’d imagine it would have gone, only with less swearing.
Still, it’s disappointing John Fashanu didn’t go on a rant and accuse Frank Worthington of having a sad little life.
Celebrity Love Island, 2005
Love Island is intrinsically linked with football whether you like it or not. It may now be a hotbed of buff semi-professionals looking for the 15 minutes of fame their careers didn’t produce, but back in season one, a floppy-haired Lee Sharpe rocked up looking for love.
The ex-Manchester United winger had just retired from the game and was hoping to finally settle down at the ripe old age of 34. He caught the eye of many of the women on the show, including eventual winner Jayne Middlemiss, but spent most of his time with Liz McClarnon, whom he finished in 6th place with.
Sharpe and his family have since moved to Spain where they’ve opened a successful sports bar called Sharpey’s. His quest for love on Love Island may not have worked out, but that sounds like a pretty good life to us.
Celebrity Masterchef, 2012
Ex-England international Danny Mills joins Bruce Grobbelaar on the more wholesome side of reality TV when he signed up for Celebrity Masterchef in 2012. Unlike Grobbelaar, Mills saw it out until the end, finishing second to actress Emma Kennedy.
He may have lost, but Mills apparently makes a banging sea bass with fennel and chilli risotto. Just like Grobbelaar, we hope Mills has kept up with it. Hopefully, we’ll get invited over to his to eat some fish and drink some organic wine.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, 2022
The first footballer on this list to have actually won the show they were on, ex-Manchester City midfielder Scott made a real name for herself in the jungle. Her career as a TV personality has since taken off having appeared as a pundit for several WSL and Premier League games.
Scott excelled in the jungle, winning an incredible 97% of available stars when she competed. For those who don’t know, contestants get stars that help get food for their teammates. Scott essentially fed the rest of the jungle in Australia during her stint, which came just months after retiring as a European champion with the Lionesses.
Cribs, late 2000s
Back in the early 2000s, MTV’s Cribs was a pretty big deal. It was an opportunity for the rich and famous to show off the things they spent their money on. It turns out money can’t buy taste after all, but it can buy a 55-inch plasma screen TV!
Ameobi was a big fan of hats. “I love wearing hats, lots of shapes and sizes of hats that I love wearing, just different sizes and colours really,” he said on his episode of Cribs. But the most impressive thing at his place was his coffee table that lights up. He loved that thing.
“I have actually [still got it],” the ex-Newcastle United forward said when he was asked about the table in 2017. “My missus hates it but it doesn’t light up anymore, it’s just a coffee table now.”
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, 2014
At this point, Jimmy Bullard is probably better known as a TV personality than a footballer. Back in his day, Bullard was fantastic for Wigan Athletic, Hull City and Fulham, but since his retirement, he’s shown us exactly who he is, and we love him for it.
He’s football’s loveable, quick-witted goofball, but he was voted off of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! after allegedly bullying fellow contestant Jake Quickenden. He has since become a co-host of the now-cancelled Soccer AM.
He has also featured as a more serious pundit on Match of the Day. He has range.
In the unpredictable realm of reality TV, footballers have proven to be as fallible and entertaining as the rest of us. From David Seaman’s daring escapades on the ice to Bruce Grobbelaar’s unexpected culinary skills in Hell’s Kitchen, the beautiful game has found a place in the world of televised drama.
As footballers waltz, cook, and survive in the wild, these tales offer a glimpse into the humorous and sometimes ridiculous adventures of our favourite sports personalities beyond the pitch.