Footballers playing across the top leagues in Europe enjoy a celebrity lifestyle. Adored by the fans, attracting the attention of girls everywhere they go, and earning more in a week than many of us would earn in a few years of work.
It’s little wonder that many who retire from the game slip off quietly to enjoy life outside the pressure cooker of the celeb world.
But not so Thomas Gravesen – the former Real Madrid midfield enforcer – who now lives the high life in the City of Sin, Las Vegas.
The former Danish international spent one and a half seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, but his physical style of play did not please the home support, who were used to watching more technically gifted players wear the white shirt. Gravesen was also victim of a number of managerial changes in his spell at the club, playing under Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Lopez Caro and Fabio Capello, most of whom didn’t like his style either.
Gravesen started his career at his hometown club Vejle Boldklub before making a switch to Bundesliga outfit Hamburg, where he made 74 appearances in three years. Following Euro 2000, the midfielder moved to Premier League side Everton. He became a crowd favourite at the Goodison Park club and helped the team challenge in the upper echelons of the league. Manager David Moyes wanted the player to sign a new deal but with just six months remaining on his contract in January 2005, sold him to Los Blancos for 3 million euros rather than risk losing him on a free.
He quickly found himself in and out of the team at the Bernabeu and only made 34 appearances in his 18 months at the club. The writing was on the wall for him when he became involved in a training ground scuffle in August 2006 in which he appeared to punch Robinho. Manager at the time Fabio Capello said: “His behaviour is like this, and I don’t like it, everything has to be done like he wants it to be done.” Weeks later he was sold to Celtic.
Things didn’t work out at the Scottish club and he was loaned back to Everton. But in January 2009 Gravesen decided to hang up his boots.
Rather than slipping into the limelight, Gravesen dabble in a number of business ventures, and is said to have increased his net worth to around 90 million euros. According to Danish newspaper BT, the now 37-year-old moved to Las Vegas with his girlfriend, Czech-born American model Kamila Persse.
Being in a position to gamble, play poker, roulette and blackjack in Vegas all day, maybe we’ll see Gravesen on the professional poker tournament in the near future?