Top 10 Football Players Who Combined Studying in College and a Career

Football players don’t neglect to get formal, higher education even in the midst of their successful professional careers. It turns out many players were ready to sacrifice their limited personal time to pursue various degrees in science, law, medicine, or else. Let’s see the main ten examples of such academic dedication. Here are the top ten football players who combined studying and a career.

Football Players

Juan Mata

A great football player and one of the Common Goal initiators, Juan Mata was known and loved for many reasons. It is surprising how one person could achieve so much while being an active, professional footballer. Yet, Mata received two degrees, in Marketing and Sports Science, during the peak of his career. Both degrees were earned from Madrid Universidad Camilo Jose Cela, while Juan Mata played for Valencia and Chelsea. Mata plans to retire from playing this year and considers pursuing another degree in psychology while taking a coaching position.

Also Read: Top 10 Steps To Starting A High School Football Program

Romelu Lukaku

Currently, the only two Premier League players with higher degrees are Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku, a rising star in international football. This young Belgium player has already played for the most famous football clubs of the world, including Chelsea and Inter Milan. The footballer holds a Public Relations degree and speaks multiple languages. Lukaku admits that getting a university degree while building a career in football was quite a challenge. However, looking at his father’s past as a Belgium football player, Lukaku wanted to secure a Plan B, just in case. Fortunately, he never had to go for it due to his entering the football scene far outside the Belgium league.

Iain Dowie

One of the biggest English players of his time, Iain Dowie, left a large legacy before his retirement. With over 400 professional games and 59 caps, his career was nothing short but admirable. However, Dowie’s career didn’t always look so promising. In between teams, the player chose to go for the MA degree at the University of Hertfordshire. He even managed to put the degree to work for a little bit before returning to the field full-time.

Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer has a strong career in the English league with over 500 appearances. Meanwhile, Palmer also managed to graduate from Cambridge University with a Computer Science degree. Should we mention how few professional football players have the Oxbridge degree under their belt? To this day, the list doesn’t go far.

Vincent Kompany

Being one of the most successful players in Belgium and beyond, Vincent Kompany also chose to secure another path for himself by pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Of course, he chose to analyze football clubs for his dissertation, earning him extra credit in the football world. The degree must seem quite helpful now in his new coaching position.

Duncan Watmore

Duncan Watmore craved education despite all the obstacles in his way. Being a professional footballer and a student was a hard but enjoyable combination for the young athlete. He even had to switch schools due to his transfer to a new team. Still, he successfully passed final exams, receiving an Economics degree early in his career. Who knows, maybe a quick read of a random speedypaper review was his secret weapon at times.

Slaven Bilic

Probably one of the most famous Croatian football players of the time, Slaven Bilic was gifted in many areas beyond football. Even despite being a young football star with a promising professional career, Bilic wanted to secure a second path for his future. So, he combined Law studies and his career during his early days. A smart move by all means. Being educated in law always helped during the contract signing, which Bilic did a lot of over his playing and managerial career.

David Wetherall

Wetherall was the first and only Premier League player to receive a first-class degree up until Watmore entered the professional football scene. Though, Wetherall didn’t earn just any degree in social science or business or anything related to sports. He went all in and studied chemistry at Sheffield University. While studying, he also represented England in student football championships.

Shaka Hislop

This English player of Trinidad and Tobago origin honors both countries with his great football gifts. He managed to achieve a lot during his 15 years of a professional career in football. However, his football goals didn’t stop Hislop from pursuing higher education at Howard University in the US, where he earned a ‘soccer’ scholarship. He is the only player on our list to receive an education because of his football talents.

Also Read: Most Promising Young Football Players In Europe Right Now


One of the legends of Brazilian football, Socrates, was a gifted person on the field and in life. Being born to a family of intellectuals, Socrates was always academically inclined. So despite his very successful career in football, the player also pursued a medical degree. Not the easier studies to complete while playing professional football! However, that earned him the nickname Dr. Socrates or even Doctor of football. Socrates practiced medicine after retiring from football with great field achievement behind his back.

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