From the battlefield to the football field was what it was for these world class players who had served time in the military with their country.
1. Teemu Tainio – Finland
The legendary Finnish midfielder turned down Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Manchester United for his mandatory national service in his country Army.
Back in 1997, 16-year-old Teemu Tainio had a successful trial at Old Trafford, having scored few goals in the same team with the likes Eric Cantona, Karel Poborsky and Paul Scholes.
He was poised to return for another spell at Carrington until the call for national service in Finland came: “I was at Manchester United for a few weeks but in Finland you have to do army service and that was just before then,” explained Tainio.
“I played a few games, scored a few goals because I was a striker back then and they wanted me to come back but I said: ‘I have to do my army service’. After that, I decided to go and play in France, which is where I stayed for seven years."
2. Mohamed Salah – Egypt
Back in 2014, reports suggested Salah could be forced to return to Egypt to carry out military service after his registration for an education scheme was rescinded by the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education.
Thankfully the former Besel winger had not returned to Egypt to serve military service after the Egyptian Prime Minister stepped in to resolve the matter.
3. Bruce Grobbelaar – Zimbabwe
A Zimbabwean legend who played as a goalkeeperfor Liverpoool making 628 appearances in 13 years from 1981 to 1994.
But Despite having had a successful football career, the Liverpool legend once said: “In the army I lived in the bush for weeks, so that put the luxuries of England in perspective. I know how lucky I am.”
Grobbelaar, who joined the Rhodesian army in 1975, spent time fighting in the civil war, which ultimately led to the formation of Zimbabwe.
4. Eric Cantona – France
The French legend began his professional career with Auxerre, making his debut in 1983, aged just 17. But then his career was put on hold as he had to complete two years of military service for the French Army, and only returned to play football professionally in 1986.
5. Sir Stanley Matthews - England
A Stoke City youth product, Mattews played in the top division till he was 50.
For six years, the England legend's professional career was disrupted by his service to the Royal Air Force in Blackpool.
He rose up the ladder at the air force to become a corporal despite being a lenient character and left in 1945 after the war ended. During this time, the Englishman made 69 appearances in Wartime League and Cup games for Stoke.
6. Sir Bobby Charlton - England
Charlton joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in the year of his debut; 1956. He served the corps along with United team-mate Duncan Edwards in Shrewsbury while simultaneously building his football career.
He would often play on weekends for his club after working on the other days. The Manchester United great spent 17 seasons at Old Trafford where he made 758 appearances and scored 249 goals overall. He also raked up three first division titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup.