Garbage collector who's World Cup referee: Five interesting cases at 2018 competition

The Russia 2018 World Cup tournament is on fire with 32 teams sweating (and diving- Ahoy Neymar!) for national glory.

But did you know that some of these stars had ridiculously weird jobs before lurching onto football?

Here are some interesting cases.

Ice-cool goalie is a film director

Hannes Thór Halldórsson

Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Thór Halldórsson, is also a film director. He was between the posts when his country stopped favourites Argentina in their opening match. Even the world’s best player Lionel Messi could not score a penalty with Hannes in goal.

He directed the video for Iceland’s entry to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest and later did one commercial for Coca Cola ahead of the World Cup.

The 34-year old star, who plays for Randers FC of Denmark at club level, was the man to beat in Iceland, the smallest country to ever qualify for the World Cup.

Tooth driller became coach

Heimir Hallgrimsson

Iceland head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is also a dentist. He worked on a five square-mile (13 sq km) island called Heimaey, before getting into football management full time after the country’s Euro 2016 heroics.

The coach, who saw his team hold Argentina to a 1-1 stalemate during their World Cup opening match, is reportedly managing more than five other players in the squad, who are doctors.

He replaced Swedish Lars Lagerback at the helm.

From slum carpenter to lethal striker

Ayoub el Kaabi

Moroccan striker Ayoub el Kaabi is a former carpenter, who used to live and work in the slums of Mediouna on the outskirts of Casablanca.

Four years ago, the 24-year old was a nobody in Morocco’s football scene but his talents arose above Racing Casablanca football club-then, playing in the country’s lower division.

During the 2016-17 season, El Kaabi, who was initially thought to be a defender, scored 25 goals in 33 matches to promote Casablanca to the country’s top flight.

He then earned a transfer last summer to a bigger team, Renaissance Sportive Berkane, and a rare opportunity to be part of Morocco’s best players, who took part in the 2018 World Cup tournament.

Homeless man sought refuge in goal

Alireza Beiranvand

Iran’s first-choice goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was formerly homeless before finding his way into professional football.

Born in a nomadic family, Alireza ignored his father’s advice and ran away into the streets before making it. His first job was shepherding and whenever he found free time he played football - a thing his father Morteza never liked. Morteza thought that football could not be a job and preferred Alireza to be a simple worker prompting the young goalkeeper decided to flee to Tehran in search of a chance at one the clubs in the capital.

Luckily, Alizera was given chance to play for a local team in the city, but he never had anywhere to live in. He was then forced to work at a dress factory, a car wash and as a street cleaner in search of a place to spend nights as he worked his way out in football.

Eventually, he was selected into Iran’s U-23 team and finally into the senior team, which was on duty at the 2018 World Cup championship.

FIFA referee cum garbage collector

Gabriel Victoria

Panamanian assistant referee, at the World Cup, Gabriel Victoria is also a garbage collector. He is one of the two Panamanian referees selected by FIFA to officiate matches in Russia.

Back at home, Victoria has been collecting garbage in Panama City for more than 25 years to make ends meet since his country doesn’t pay referees. It’s because Panama’s league is semi-professional.

Since earning a nomination to be a FIFA referee in 2008, he has arisen through the ranks to officiate as the global showpiece.

Prior to the Russia duty, Victoria officiated in the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2005, the Copa America Centenario 2016 in the US, and the Under 17 World Cup in India last year.


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