“Liverpool FC is hard as hell / United, Tottenham, Arsen-ell/ Watch my lips, and I will spell/ 'Cause they don’t just play, but they can rap as well”. So lied John Barnes in 1988 and, regrettably for anyone with a working set of ears, footballers have been unsuccessfully attempting to rock the mic ever since.
Here’s a selection of the beautiful game’s ugliest hip hop forays…
Fulham’s American midfield maestro drops lyrical knowledge under the alias ‘Deuce’. And when we say “drops lyrical knowledge”, we mean “shuffles around a park, looking annoyed”. Clint’s 2006 single Don’t Tread was part of a Nike promotion to get our friends across the pond to take ‘soccer’ more seriously. Unfortunately, all it achieved was to get everyone on this side of the pond to take him less seriously.
“Game took hold like the roots of a tree / Think soccer ain’t a sport? Then why’d Nike sign me?”
One of the most prolific strikers in Premier League history, Andy ‘Please call me Andrew’ Cole teamed up with garage DJ Pied Piper in 1999 to re-work The Gap Band’s slap-bass classic, Outstanding. Unfortunately, the result was anything but, and Cole’s assertion that he was “guaranteed to rock the mic well” proved both laughable and misleading.
“Got my kicks from hitting the net / Not from drugs, you bet”
By far the most foul-mouthed footballing MC on this list, Ryan raps under the name ‘Rio’ and can frequently be heard discussing how much “b*tches in Liverpool” love him (a lot), and the amount of “f*cking money” he possesses (loads). What Roy Hodgson would have to say about this, we’re not sure, but we can’t imagine he’d be thrilled.
“I know what time it is / I’ve just bought a new watch”
It’s difficult to single out just one member of the 1988 Liverpool squad for their crimes against hip hop on the Anfield Rap, but Grobbelaar’s verse is particularly horrific. To further aggravate matters, the eccentric ‘keeper can be seen sporting a pair of gigantic foam gloves and dancing like a drunken uncle. John Barnes, on the other hand, is the apogee of cool.
STAND-OUT LINE: “You can take the mick, don’t call me a clown / Any more lip and you’re going down”
When he’s not attempting to resolve major international disputes on Twitter (“Korea… talk it out, don’t fight it out”), the United skipper is conducting after-hours rap sessions in high street tapas chains. Seen here accompanying grime favourite Kano in an impromptu performance of the song Rock N Rolla, Rio pulls off his role as hype man with cringeworthy panache.
“La Tasca, La Tasca / We don’t care about the mafia”
Morten Gamst Pedersen and John Arne Riise
Whether this song can be classified as ‘real’ hip hop or merely auto-tuned fruit juice promotion is debatable. What is painfully clear, however, is that this pasty-faced Norwegian duo are set for big things in the glittering world of urban music. The new Kriss Kross? You heard it here first. And you won’t hear it anywhere else.
Riise: “If you want to be peppy”
Pedersen: “Fruit is healthy and yummy”
The hero of Ghana’s recent World Cup (despite his last-minute penalty miss) makes his hip hop debut here under the pseudonym ‘Baby Jet’. His verse, however, is essentially just him listing girls’ names. By these standards, can the registrars at Rodean school also be considered rappers?
You’d think that winning both the World Cup and the European Championship would render your reputation untarnishable. You’d be wrong, however, as Youri Djorkaeff is only too happy to prove in the video below. The former Bolton man’s one-off single Vivre Dans Ta Lumiere (‘Living In Your Light’) was a lamentable slab of sugary Euro-pop that left the charts gloriously undented.
“My life is chance / I have tattoos on my arm”
Real Madrid star Royston has recently emerged from the considerable shadow cast by Ryan Babel across the Dutch hip hop landscape. Here we see the dreadlocked midfielder teaming up with his mate U-Niq to knock out a head-nodding anthem of a far superior quality to most of the other songs on this list. Still not great, though.
STAND-OUT LINE: “My name is Royston Drenthe” (the only one our limited Dutch skills could decode)
Before his days as a chicken-wielding would-be peace-maker, Gazza dipped his toe briefly in the world of UK rap. While hip hop videos these days are generally backed by million dollar cheques, Gazza and friends could apparently only stretch the budget for Geordie Boys to a green screen and the back seat of a taxi.
“Move your body, tap your cap / Keep on going to the Gazza rap”