Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWayne Bridge’s Life as a Poker Player After Retiring from Football - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Wayne Bridge’s Life as a Poker Player After Retiring from Football - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Wayne Bridge’s Life as a Poker Player After Retiring from Football


The career of a football player is relatively short, often ending many years before they hit 40-years-old. So, former footballers need to find something to do with their time. Many turn to management or coaching, with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard being among the recent examples, others pursue philanthropic interests, and others continue to seek that competitive surge of adrenaline off of the field through other games, such as poker.

Be it Texas hold’em or five-card poker, the globally-loved game of cards and wits is very popular among sports stars, especially footballers, with the likes of the two-time World Cup-winning and former world-record transfer Real Betis winger Denilson known to be a poker aficionado. Wayne Bridge is included in this crowd of high-profile former footballers who play poker in their retirement, taking competitive play very seriously, be it in live tournaments, in online poker rooms, or promotion meets.

Wayne Bridge’s playing career

For much of his career, Wayne Bridge was on the cusp of the England starting XI, with injuries and a certain Ashley Cole often blocking his passage to the upper echelons of football. His career started in the city of his birth, Southampton, who he signed for in the summer of 1996. Just two years later, he made his first-team debut, featuring primarily on the left-wing for the Saints until he moved permanently to left-back in the 1999/00 season.

At left-back, Bridge’s performances caught the eyes of other Premier League teams, with his fitness, consistency, and near-impeccable disciplinary record keeping him a first-team regular for Southampton. During his time with the Saints, Bridge for the most consecutive Premier League appearances by an outfielder, clocked at 113 between March 2000 and January 2003.

By the close of the 2002/03 season, Bridge had compiled 158 games, three goals, and one assist for the Saints, earning a £7 million move to Chelsea in what would prove to be Claudio Ranieri’s last season before Jose Mourinho came to the club. Bridge was part of a huge summer of spending at Stamford Bridge which included the likes of Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastian Veron, Claude Makelele, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Damien Duff, and Adrian Mutu.

With Chelsea, Wayne Bridge found himself with the regular starting role at left-back in his first season in blue. Not known for his scoring ability, Bridge scooped a crucial goal for his team near the back-end of the 2003/04 seasons, netting the game-winning goal against Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final.

Highlights of the Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea Champions League quarter-final, featuring Wayne Bridge’s game-winning goal.

Known for his longevity and consistency, a serious ankle injury in February 2005 derailed his campaign and forced Chelsea to sign Asier del Horno from Athletic Bilbao. Used sparingly in cup games, Bridge was loaned out to Fulham in the winter of the 2005/06 season, showing that he’d returned to top form to earn himself a place in England’s World Cup squad.

Upon his return from the World Cup in Germany, Bridge found England’s number one left-back, and one of the best in the world at the time, Ashley Cole had joined Chelsea. Bridge still managed to tally 33 appearances in all competitions in the 2006/07 season, but his game time continued to wane over the next two campaigns. In January 2009, however, another big-spending, building club forked out for Wayne Bridge.

Mark Hughes’ money-chucking Manchester City saw Bridge’s situation as a prime opportunity to add some class to their backline, sending £10 million to Chelsea for the left-back. He joined in a winter spree that included Craig Bellamy, Shay Given, and Nigel de Jong, which followed a huge summer in which Robinho, Shaun Wright-Philips, Vincent Kompany, and Pablo Zabaleta all came to the City of Manchester Stadium.

Bridge would go on to tally 58 games for City, but a managerial switch led to the likes of Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov usurping the England-capped defender, making him a . He would eventually go out on loan spells to West Ham United, Sunderland, and Brighton & Hove Albion. In the summer of 2013, Bridge joined Reading in the Championship on a one-year deal but was released after 12 appearances, leading to his retirement.

Bridge’s life after football and love of poker

A video of Wayne Bridge featuring on the football television show Soccer AM earlier this year.

Wayne Bridge is a well-known and well-liked figure among English football fans, with multiple television show appearances since his retirement keeping him in the public eye. He’s appeared on Soccer AM as well as I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! As is the case with many retired footballers, however, Bridge still has the desire to compete, and so, he’s turned to the game of poker.

The former England left-back takes his poker rather seriously, appearing in many one-day poker live tournaments, playing a lot of online poker, and even contending against fellow former football stars. Bridge has described his style as ‘kamikaze,’ and while it was some light-hearted fun when he met Paul Ince heads up, his certainly shined through, chucking down 300, scaring Ince off of the play and leading him to fold.

His love of poker started during his loan move to Brighton, where he and his teammates would play the card game in hotels and on the coach for away games. He has claimed that Adam El-Abd was the easiest to play against as he struggled to hide the fact that he had a good hand, with David Lopez being the toughest to read.

Do any skills transfer from poker to football?

While they are both very different, with one being much more physically demanding than the other, some skills have proven to be transferable between poker and football. The most important between the two is the abilities to keep concentrated, be patient, and be disciplined. With only 18 yellow cards and not a single red card – double yellow or straight – Bridge proved himself to be very disciplined on the field, which will help him at the Texas hold’em table.

In a lengthy game of poker, concentration and patience are crucial to being able to capitalise on the frailties of your opponents. In football, full-backs especially need to keep their concentration as they need to keep an eye out for who are traditionally the most skilful and quickest players on the pitch, wingers, while also needing to gauge whether or not they should join the attack.

The desire to compete among professional footballers continues to burn within them even after they’ve hung up their boots. Texas hold’em, Omaha, and five-card draw provide the ability to be competitive while using some of the same mental skills deployed by professional footballers.