A career as a footballer rarely extends past the age of 40, a fact that has encouraged several ex-players to be ambitious and creative in their pursuits upon retirement. This has led to some surprising ventures and unlikely collaborations between ex-players and global stars from outside the football arena. For example, the recent partnership struck up between former Gunners full-back Ashley Cole and the American rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z. Back in 2011, the pair teamed-up, in a multi-million pound deal brokered by NVA Agency, to work on a number of new projects beginning with the opening of a new restaurant and bar, ‘40/40’ in Central London. This venture has inspired us to consider other ex-players who have pursued ambitious projects upon retirement and struck it big outside of the game.

Heading up the list is former Arsenal and A.C. Milan midfielder Matthieu Flamini who, whilst still playing professionally, co-founded a multi-million dollar biochemical company with his business partner, Pasquale Granata. Driven by environmental concerns, GF Biochemicals produces biofuel to be used as an alternative to oil-based products. Described as a pioneer in what could be a rapidly expanding field, Flamini appears to be just as aggressive in his business dealings as he was on the pitch.

Another ex-footballer who has seen surprising success since hanging up his boots is the former Spurs defender Ramon Vega. Born in Switzerland, Vega studied for a degree in banking and finance whilst playing professionally for Grasshopper Club Zurich, and it is in finance where he has made is fortune upon retiring from the game. In 2012 he became a founding member of Duet Group, a financial company specializing in asset management and private equity. He is also a founding member of a Swiss real estate company focusing on the development of luxury hotels worldwide, and has previously submitted an unsuccessful bid to purchase Portsmouth F.C.

The final place on this shortlist goes to Michael Owen, a player whose enforced early retirement created opportunities to venture into other fields. Since calling time on his career at the age of 33, Owen has turned out regular performances as a pundit and commentator on BT Sport, set up Michael Owen Management to help young players and, perhaps most surprisingly, owns Manor House Stables in Cheshire where he has turned a lifelong hobby into a successful business and overseas the management and training of more than 80 horses!

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