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Footballers Who Started as Bodybuilders




10 Famous Footballers Who Started Off as Bodybuilders

More often we  change careers to do something we never thought would cross our paths. People have started off as accountants only to end up building business empires. Others have been movie stars before securing places in various sports. Most importantly, there are football stars who launched bodybuilding careers then made a U-turn to become professional footballers. In this regard, we have prepared for you a list of 10 famous footballers who started as bodybuilders. Please note that some of them still do bodybuilding but mostly to help them with their training, playing, and recovery.

1. Adebayo Akinfenwa

Adebayo Akinfenwa is a professional footballer who plays for the English side Wycombe Wanderers. Many consider him one of the most well-built football stars in the world. He is nicknamed 'The Beast' and enjoys a celebrity-like status in England. Akinfenwa also has great sense of humor, he is always seen endearing himself to his fans. The African sensation cites his strength as the greatest skill he has. Unknown to many people, Akinfenwa has hard work and dedication to thank for his impressive muscle. Although he plays for Wycombe, he is a diehard Liverpool fan. Lastly, nobody dares to touch him in football because his huge are enough to ward them off, so he claims.

2. Shawn Ray

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Shawn Ray is also one of the footballers who started as bodybuilders. He was a star football player for his college, El Dorado High School. A great athlete and sprinter, Ray holds the record for an all-time rush that's yet to be broken. However, many are not aware of his prowess in bodybuilding earlier on. His well-toned body and physique is something to marvel at. During his time at El Dorado, he wore Jersey number 1, which has since been retired in his honour.

3. Mike Katz

Katz is another bodybuilder-turned-footballer who played for All-state and all-American football as a fullback. After his stint at the amateur level, he decided to start a professional career when by signing a contract with New York Jets. You could make out his well-built physique and outlines even when he has his jersey on.

4. Steve Cook

Coming up at number 4 is the former Dixie State University footballer who literally excelled in everything he did. When he left bodybuilding for football, nobody thought he would be that good. Cook's eye-catching physique was not only natural but also as a result of hours of hard work every week.

5. Tristyn Lee

Another of the many footballers who started as bodybuilders, here is a man many consider 'too strong for football'. Tristyn lee has been a strong kid since he was three. He would work out in the gym like a pro and the results were never disappointing. Lee would try he luck at football and he is excelling in it as well.

6. Robert Lewandowski

The Bayern Munich sensation is a sight to behold, especially when he takes off his shirt to celebrate a goal. His shredded body is enough proof he has been spending quality time in the gym. Lewandowski's body looks natural but the Polish goal machine has boosted it with targeted exercises at the gym. This must have have started while he was still playing amateur leagues as a teenager. It is no wonder he was nicknamed 'The Body" during his time at Borussia Dortmund. Rumour has it that his teammates can't have enough of his lean body in the dressing room. Like him or hate him, Lewa's prowess in goal scoring is as good as his bench presses like other footballers who started as bodybuilders.

7. Michail Antonio

Michail Antonio plays for the English top flight side West Ham United. Again, he is one of the bulkiest professional footballers in the English Premier League. Antonio is a unique player with a strong mind that matches his body. You would be amazed at how he pushes through defenders with the help of his strong muscles.

Importantly, the strong muscles in his upper body and strong legs allows him to execute long throws that mostly land inside the penalty box. Clearly, Michail Antonio is an asset the hammers would want to keep being one of the footballers who started as bodybuilders . It is also evident that the star must have started working on his strength long before becoming a professional footballer. He is the perfect example of an all-rounded player who has discovered the secret of combining physical strength and skill to make a great footballer. That's the secret footballers who started off as bodybuilders have in common.

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8. Leon Goretzka

Leon Goretzka is another good example of professional footballers who decided to get bench before venturing into the beautiful game. The Chelsea playmaker was part of the squad that beat the likes of Paris St. Germain to lift the coveted Uefa Championships League Trophy in 2020. Anyone could confuse Goretzka for a random bodybuilder if you happen to see him without his playing uniform. He is so shredded that opposing players think twice before tackling him. Goretzka's lean body gives him advantage when fighting for the ball with opponents because it is not easy to overpower or bring him down. Undoubtedly, he would be a renowned bodybuilder if his love for football didn't sway him away. Goretzka continues to work on his body for a blissful football career like all other footballers who started off as bodybuilders.

9. Nani

You're mistaken if you think Cristiano Ronaldo is the most ripped Portuguese player. Nani, a former Manchester United player who now plays for Major League Soccer is a moving mass of pure muscle. You could think the lad has not seen a carb in his entire life if you see him shirtless. It is no wonder he is fond of taking off his shirt whenever he finds the back of the net. Nani, like Cristiano Ronaldo, values his health and physical shape. Therefore, he spends a huge chunk of his time in the gym when he is not playing. He does everything footballers who started off as bodybuilders do, from bench pressing, to squats, to deadlifting. Nani is one of the players who believe in hard work to supplement their talent.

10. Gareth Bale

Last on our list of footballers who started as bodybuilders is the Polish and Real Madrid goal machine, Gareth Bale. He is considered one of the strongest footballers and this strength allows him to kick the ball towards goad with deadly force. His lean muscles is second to none in the Los Blancos dressroom. Like many other players in this list, Gareth Bale did not get his shredded body on a silver platter. It is a result of hard work, waking up every day with a specific goal that must be accomplished in the gym.


Being a football player automatically makes you a bodybuilder. footballers who started off as bodybuilders do well better in physical brawls and confrontations on the pitch to fighting for ball. Football is not for the weak; mentally, emotionally, and physically. Many footballers who started as bodybuilders apply most of the techniques used by bodybuilders such as gaining muscle, dieting, and recovery to create better versions of themselves. The players mentioned above are always a step ahead because they found it necessary to start building strong bodies before getting into the pitch. Start your football career by bulking and acquiring that killer body today for a better chance of excelling in the world's most beautiful game. Read more bodybuilding and other informational articles on our blog for an all-round fitness exposure.

Read: Your Guide to Become a Successful Personal Trainer 

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