Frank Lampard and his 11 GCSEs among the ten most intellectual footballers ever

John Nicholson
Chelsea legends Frank Lampard and Petr Cech
Frank Lampard and Petr Cech compare GCSE results

Frank Lampard is obviously in a rundown of ten of the most intellectual footballers ever, but one legendary Chelsea teammate is also included.


Frank Lampard
Has a legendarily high IQ despite being related to Harry Redknapp. Currently appears grinning in adverts for no particular reason. Must have had to pretend to be really stupid when at West Ham and Chelsea to avoid a weekly atomic wedgie from the boys. Famously got 11 GCSEs, including an A* in Latin, which must have come in useful when taking corners and understanding what Steve Clark was staying. Despite academic achievements has been associated with the Conservative Party, which perhaps just goes to show no amount of education can make a fool wise.


Dennis Bergkamp
Famously one half of Beavis and Butthead. I bet you didn’t know his daughter is Donny van de Beek’s partner. While being rather good at football for Netherlands and Arsenal he studied for a medical engineering degree at the University of Bath which is not the sort of thing you’d catch Ray Parlour doing. Quite what medical engineering entails isn’t clear, or if Dennis is using it in a laboratory somewhere to build the perfect footballer.

Portrait of an icon: Dennis Bergkamp


Brazilian who was a fully qualified doctor. In 1983, he was named South American Footballer of the Year and was widely seen as one of the best midfielders of his generation. Played for Fiorentina briefly. Spent most of his career at Corinthians. He died at just 57. Agreed to a month’s coaching at Garforth Town near Leeds. Played 12 minutes against Tadcaster Albion. Unlikely but true. Liked a fag and lots of delicious booze which killed him. Married four times. Was left wing and claimed Che Guevara, John Lennon and Fidel Castro as inspiration, much like every modern footballer.


Paul Breitner
Der Afro, as he was known, was a remarkably striking German footballer who played at left-back and central midfield and scored in two World Cup finals. Had the most magnificent bubble perm any revolutionary Communist ever had. Was quite the star in West Germany. Was accused of being a Maoist which he dismissed and went from Bayern to Real Madrid and coined many handsome commercial deals. Shaved off his beard and ‘tache for money. Was the only player to boycott the 1978 World Cup for being hosted by the Argentine military. Still a pundit and still looks good.


Steve Coppell
Went to the same school as John Lennon albeit at a different time and had a successful career as a player at Tranmere and Manchester United and England. Was smarter than the average bear and while playing as a rather good winger he got a degree in economic history, which was surely very useful during the four times he was the manager of Crystal Palace where he discovered Ian Wright. Has rather dropped off the UK radar; his last job was six years ago was boss of ATK Football Club, an Indian club based in Kolkata, West Bengal.


Simon Mignolet
Played for six years at Liddypool, and was occasionally brilliant but more often wasn’t. Always wore a vaguely surprised expression of a man violated with a carrot. Still plays for Club Brugge. Can speak Dutch, English, French and German, the clever clogs. I wonder if he understood Jamie Carragher? He has a degree in political science from the Catholic University of Leuven. The Liverpool dressing room must have been an intellectual hot house.


Petr Cech
One third of triplets, speaks seven – count ’em – languages: Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. But still couldn’t understand a word John Terry said. Was so clever he had to wear a helmet thing to stop his big giant brain from oozing out. Won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Europa League and a Champions League. Keen drummer. Has a masters degree in Business Administration which must make his discussions with Dennis Wise absolutely fascinating.


Giorgio Chiellini
A defensive giant, whose style of defending has shamefully been virtually outlawed. He looked like the sort of centurion employed by the Roman Empire to invade Britain and secure a bleak outpost at Vindolanda. At odds with his physical appearance, he completed a BA in economics and commerce at the University of Turin in July 2010 and earned a master’s degree in business administration in April 2017. Was easily the best central defender of the last 25 years. Lived to tackle while at Juventus and won the Euro 2022 for Italy by being better than any English player.


Pat Nevin
Notoriously and improbably Terry Butcher’s cousin, a man who is famous for a bloody bandaged head and excessive levels of ‘in my day’ PFMing which is very much not the Nevin home territory. Famously didn’t want to be a footballer, and would rather have gone to college. My nurse in hospital played amateur football in Greenock against him and reported that he couldn’t even get close enough to kick him; Nevin beat him once and came back to do it again just for the fun of it. Became the favourite player of Chelsea fans, all the while performing sets on the wheels of steel and going to the ballet. He has an arts degree from Glasgow Caledonian University and has created a niche for himself as radio’s foremost cultural professor. Most likely to quote the Blue Aeroplanes in analysing how Manchester City’s midfield works.


Neil MacKenzie
You’ve never heard of him, have you? The very definition of a journeyman, he played 427 (yes, really) games for 18 clubs. He makes this list because he was the first ever footballer to appear on television’s dead hard Countdown, winning five times consecutively. Was sacked by Cambridge for “persistent misconduct”, following an ‘incident’ which left him facing a public order offence. A team-mate once described him as ‘by far the funniest person I’ve been out with’. Never not short of a difficult anagram, presumably.