Michael Owen and trainer Hugo Palmer with horse Mr McCann.

Footballers who’ve made insane money from other things: Horses, Vegas, biochemicals…

Footballers are fortunate enough to not only do a job that most of us would dream of doing, but also earn a pretty penny for doing said job.

It’s famously a short career and those lower down the chain don’t earn that eye-watering wealth we think of, but if you climb the ladder high enough, make shrewd financial decisions and protect your earnings, you can set yourself and your family up for life.

We’ve already discussed footballers who declared bankruptcy after retiring, so today we’re looking the other way and focusing on the ballers who have made even more money since hanging up their boots.

Robbie Fowler

Known as ‘God’ by some Liverpool fans, Fowler enjoyed a successful career albeit one that was blighted by injuries towards the end, and would’ve made a rather handsome stack of cash during that time.

Since retirement, though, he’s gotten even richer. Not through his coaching career – you’d be forgiven for not knowing a thing about it – but instead through a series of investments into businesses, properties and companies he’d started up himself.

He and Steve McManaman started up The Macca and Growler Partnership in the 2000s, before he went solo and started up Robbie Fowler Sports Promotions.

That business career is combined with punditry, and explains why Spear’s Wealth Management Survey estimated his net worth to be in excess of £30million in 2017.

Thomas Gravesen

One half of Everton’s infamous midfield duo with Lee Carsley, Gravesen is known for a rather surprising move to Real Madrid from the Toffees in 2005, where he lasted just one season.

Following his 2009 retirement, though, the Dane has embarked on a complete career change and spent the best part of a decade living in Las Vegas among the stars, following a series of successful investments and playing poker.

His one season at Real would’ve earned him a very healthy wage, but it was his work after hanging up the boots that saw him live a life of luxury in Vegas. It is believed that he has since returned to Denmark. Well in, Mad Dog.

Dexter Blackstock

Blackstock carved out a pretty respectable career in the English Football League before retiring in 2017 aged 30, turning out most notably for QPR from 2006 to 2009, before signing for Nottingham Forest and remaining there until 2016.

A decent career and probably a decent money haul, but one that doesn’t compare to the money he’s earned in pharmaceuticals since retiring. Blackstock is the CEO of MediConnect and is a shareholder in online pharmacy UK Meds.

He’s also tried his hand at property, but admitted 12 licensing offences in October 2019 and was fined £24,000 when inspectors found a number of them in disrepair. The less said about that side of his business interests, the better.

Michael Owen

We all rip on Owen for being perhaps the most boring man on the planet and a complete corporate shill, given his reputation for featuring in advertisements in just about anything, but it has paid off.

He is an avid horse racing fan and owns several racehorses, including one that won Royal Ascot in 2011 and the 2015 Dubai World Cup.

Owen’s horse racing interests go beyond just a few horses, too; he co-owns Manor House Stables, which has one of the best reputations in the country and has sold horses to Wayne Rooney in the past.

A terminally boring man – which you’ll know from his media and punditry work – but one that’s made him millions.

Mathieu Flamini

As if playing for the likes of Arsenal (twice) and AC Milan wasn’t enough, Flamini has become a seriously successful environmental entrepreneur since retiring in 2019. The Daily Star claimed in 2022 that his net worth is estimated to be around £11.6billion.

He’s a partner and co-founder of GF Biochemicals, which is a company devoted to finding sustainable alternatives to oil-based products. Away from that – which has been hugely successful and a large part of his new fortune – Flamini co-founded The BioJournal, a leading magazine devoted to the bioworld.

Not only was he pretty bloody good at football, he’s a very nice man, too. So nice – and intelligent – that he’s on the Environmental Excellence Committee for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Sun Jihai

In what might be one of the most blatant pub quiz questions ever, Sun was the first East Asian footballer to score a goal in the Premier League when playing for Manchester City in October 2002.

A largely forgotten entity beyond that fact in England, he’s massive in East Asia, he played in the China side that reached the 2002 World Cup, but more importantly founded Beijing Haiqiu Technology Company (HQ Sports) while still playing in 2016.

Since announcing that and retiring later that year, the sports data company has grown to have over 100 staff and is rabidly popular, and has allowed Sun to also develop a sports social media app called MiaoHi, which is used by 400 million people.

Add to that his role as vice chairman of the FA in the Xinjiang region, it’s fair to say that Sun has carved out a pretty spectacular business career. More than a pub quiz answer, he’s a very smart man and a millionaire. 

Ramon Vega

Rather hilariously, Vega is probably best known for his stint with Tottenham the last time they actually won a trophy, playing as they won the 1999 League Cup. That was as good as it god for the Swiss defender, though, who was never much more than a backup in north London.

He won’t be too bothered, though, having founded a Swiss real estate company in 2006 and becoming a founding member of the Duet Group in 2012, a finance group which deals with private equity and asset management. From those two things alone, you can probably guess he’s made a lot of money.

Unfortunately, due to Brexit, his Vega Swiss Asset Management (VSAM) hedge fund wound up in 2020 after almost 20 years.

Still, though, he likely has plenty of other business interests and is very rich. The fact he tried to buy Portsmouth in 2009 says it all.

Louis Saha

The former Manchester United, Everton and Fulham forward was brilliant on his day, but never truly unlocked his potential due to injuries and retired in 2013.

After retiring, he founded AixStars, a company which serves to aid professional athletes in their career after retirement, providing everything from guidance on finances to managing their various different platforms, and allowing them to discuss their finance and lifestyle.

He is also a published author, with his first book ‘Thinking Inside The Box?’ released in 2012. 

READ: Louis Saha: A brilliant striker, but never better than when at Fulham

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