I’ve been thinking about which players, past of present, would be top of the league in Footie Quiz? Much has been said about players such as Bobby Moore, Xavi and Andrea Pirlo being intelligent footballers, but what about intelligence off the field? Gazza had a great football brain but seemed to lack common sense and self-control off it; David Beckham is often looked upon as stupid but has managed to amass a fortune the rest of us can only dream about. What about players past and present? How do they fare in the intelligence stakes?
Current Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet may take some stopping (especially among keepers who are usually regarded as mad) as he has a Degree in Law and Political Science, and can speak four languages – English, French, Dutch and German. I think that with his experience in playing in Belgium and his national team he would probably have the Belgian Pro-League as his specialist subject-
One player that I always thought had an on the pitch football intelligence about him was Dennis Bergkamp. And Bergkamp got himself a degree in medical engineering at the University of Bath during his time at Arsenal. Known for his fear of flying, I don’t think that Dennis would like to go overseas to find the answers to his questions so I think that he would prefer to answer questions on his home town club Ajax.
When I started to look into intelligent footballers I kept coming across the name of Frank Lampard. I dismissed this as the media misunderstanding the fact that he has written loads of (children’s) books with a level of intelligence. So I looked a little further and in fact he has an IQ of 150, which puts him in the top 0.5% of the world population and marked by MENSA as the level of genius. To give you some idea of what an IQ of 150 means, Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160! Being a player that has played in 20 of the 23 completed Premier League seasons I think that his specialist subject could only be the Premier League.
I’ve seen two footballers in particular get involved with the higher-brow television quiz shows and they are Clarke Carlisle and Matt Le Tissier, and both were contestants on Channel 4’s Countdown. Carlisle made it to a third episode before being defeated and as a bit of a journeyman pro, I’d expect him to be able to answer questions on the Football League.
While Le Tissier netted another hat-trick with three wins on the show and made his name in his playing career as a one club man. That club was Southampton and I can’t see anywhere past his beloved Saints as the subject where he would score the most points.
Having an intelligence on the football pitch doesn’t always follow that the player has intelligence in real life, but these footballers have shown that they are skilled in more than just football. If I was looking at the best odds of which players would come up in my Mastermind ‘intelligent footballers’ specialist subject my money would be on Frank Lampard.