7 Famous Football Players Who Served In The Military

While footballers joining the military is a rare occurrence, it has happened in recent decades, with everyone from World Cup winners to all-time greats serving in their country’s military.

In many nations, being an international footballer is one way to avoid military service, as you can serve your country by playing for the national team. 

While this rule has benefited many in the world of football, it has also resulted in some players having to finish a shorter training period before returning to their previous lives. 

The list below are the 7 famous footballers who have once served in the military:

Eric Cantona
At the age of 17, the French superstar began his professional career with Auxerre, where he made his debut in 1983. His professional career was put on hold just as it was getting underway.

Eric had to serve in the French Army for two years before being able to play professional football again in 1986

Eric Cantona had an illustrious football career, winning four Premier League titles with Manchester United and other individual honours. 

Mohammed Salah
Former Chelsea winger, Mohammed Salah, who now plays for Liverpool, is one of the rare players to have served in the military

He had the opportunity to join the military and serve his nation. His football career did, of course, exempt him from Egyptian military service for a period. During his time at Chelsea, Mohammed Salah usually returns to Egypt to serve in the military. 

On the other hand, Egyptians enrolled in a national education programme that exempts students from military duty. 

Sir Bobby Charlton
Due to required military service, Sir Bobby Charlton, a Manchester United great and England’s all-time second-highest goalscorer, served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in Shrewsbury.  

He joined the army the same year he made his Manchester United debut.  

Son Heung-Min
South Korean footballer, Son was one of the most recent and well-known footballers to serve in the military. My son completed his national service in May 2020

The winger, who plays in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur, was named one of the best five recruits and received an award for his efforts. 

After South Korea won the Asian Games in 2018, Son’s sentence was reduced to three weeks after he had been sentenced to 21 months.  

Paolo Maldini
Military duty was compulsory in Italy until 2004, and as Maldini was rising through the football ranks, he also served in the Italian army. 

He went on to play for AC Milan for almost 900 games, earning multiple titles and Champions League trophies. 

Fabio Cannavaro
Due to required service, Fabio Cannavaro also served in the Italian military. 

He had an illustrious football career, captaining Italy to a World Cup victory in 2004 and winning numerous league titles with Real Madrid in Spain. 

On the other hand, Fabio Cannavaro was a successful footballer in the military, winning the World Military Cup in 1995-1996 while serving his country.

Alessandro Del Piero
In 1995–96, Alessandro Del Piero, Fabio Cannavaro, Fabio Galante, and Marco Delvecchio served in the Italian military alongside Fabio Cannavaro, Fabio Galante, and Marco Delvecchio. 

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