The End of Gordon Ramsay’s Soccer Career Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Him

In another reality, is it possible that we could have had Gordon Ramsay, the soccer star, instead of Gordon Ramsay, the professional chef? When he was young, that’s what Ramsey imaged his future to be- running across the field with the Glasgow Rangers. So, why did he become a chef instead? He may not have had a choice. Here’s the story of a man who made a dream career out of his backup job.

Gordon Ramsay’s soccer dreams

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay | YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/Getty Images

Before he was a world-renowned chef, Ramsay wanted to play professional soccer. He was raised in a small English town, famous for being the birthplace of Shakespeare, called Stratford-upon-Avon. According to his biography, Humble Pie, his father was a “hard-drinking womanizer” who caused his childhood to be marked with abuse and neglect. But young Ramsay found an escape in the game of soccer.

He described how he fell in love with the game for The Guardian:

“My uncle Roland took me to my first game at Ibrox. I was seven and I went on his shoulders. The crowd was just phenomenal. We were standing by the terraces and I remember getting slightly nervous, and very scared. Because you just swayed then, you moved in a sway formation. I think it was against Hearts and it was dirty- I mean very dirty- and Rangers won 1-0. Those games are always going to be dirty for the next century, because it’s just an all-blood tie. And I loved it.”

At the age of 12, he played for Warwickshire, and by the time he was 15, the Glasgow Rangers had their eye on him. He had a trial with the team and trained with them for a few months, but a knee injury ended his soccer dreams prematurely.

Gordon Ramsay stretches the truth

Even now as an adult, Ramsay is proud of his soccer past, and has mentioned it several times throughout his television appearances. But his recollection may be swelled past what actually happened. After his biography was released, Ramsay was accused of exaggerating his experience with the Rangers. A spokesperson with the Rangers confirmed that he was given a trial, but never played any matches with them, as the book inferred.

After being confronted with the inaccuracies, Ramsay admitted that the exact ins-and-outs of his time with the team are “hazy” in his memory, because so many years have passed since his time with them.  

An injury ruins Gordon Ramsay’s soccer career

After his knee injury, Ramsay was forced to rethink his future. He ended up back at school and earned a degree in hotel management. According to the second book of Ramsay’s — titled Roasting in Hell’s Kitchen: Temper Tantrums, F Words, and the Pursuit of Perfection — his decision to enter catering in college was “an accident, a complete accident.”

It may have been an accident, but the choice worked out well for Ramsay. He ended up studying under some of the best chefs and food professionals in the world, including Albert Roux, Marco Pierre White, and Guy Savoy. Working his way up, Ramsay became head chef and then opened his own restaurants, making a name for himself in the industry. When he was offered a TV show, his career really took and off, and he became the celebrity chef sensation we know today.

Would Gordon Ramsay rather be playing soccer?

For fans who love seeing Ramsay on TV, the end of his soccer career meant he was able to succeed as a chef. But is this what Ramsay really wanted? What would have happened if Ramsay never had his knee injury? Would he have stuck with the game, or would he have eventually found his way to cooking and restaurant management? According to Ramsay himself, he’d rather be playing soccer.

Here’s how he described it to The Guardian:

“Would I swap what I have achieved as a cook if I could have been as successful as a footballer? Definitely,” Ramsey said. “Because there is a great feeling when you are excited and run into that pitch, and I don’t give a fig what anyone says, there’s such a huge, huge rush. But if I’m honest I don’t think I was good enough to be a truly great player. But I know I’m a truly great chef.”