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10 of the most academic sports personalities

With the Leaving Cert starting tomorrow, we take a look at some of the brainiest athletes around.

1. Graeme Le Saux

Soccer - FA Barclays Premiership - Southampton v Arsenal - St Mary's Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

WAS FAMOUSLY RIDICULED by teammates for his middle-class background and interest in reading and culture, and in particular, his penchant for reading The Guardian.

2. Noel Connors

Noel Connors Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Connors juggles life as a Waterford senior hurler with a PhD at Waterford IT. His topic of study focuses on ‘club leadership within the GAA’.

3. Jose Mourinho

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea v Sunderland - Stamford Bridge Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Not only is he routinely referred to as a ‘student of the game,’ Chelsea boss Mourinho speaks five languages and also studied studied sports science in the Technical University of Lisbon.

4. Seamus Hickey

Seamus Hickey Source: Tommy Greally/INPHO

Like fellow hurler Connors, Limerick’s Hickey has also undertaken a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Limerick.

5. Felipe Contepomi

Felipe Contepomi Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Contepomi managed to balance life as a top rugby star, playing for Leinster among others, with a degree in Medicine. He is now a qualified doctor. 

6. Mark English

Mark English Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Another one on the considerable list of athletes doing a degree in Medicine, English admits it can be difficult to combine being a top athlete with study, recently explaining:  “It’s much easier in the winter time because I’m not racing, then towards the summer time it’s a bit more challenging, there’s less time during the spring and summer to socialise.”

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7. Shane O’Donnell

Shane O'Donnell at the end of the game Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

When he’s not competing for the Clare hurlers, O’Donnell is brushing up on his science knowledge. The youngster is studying genetics in UCC and has been recruited as an Ambassador for Smart Futures by Science Foundation Ireland.

8. Patrick Bamford

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Sheffield Wednesday v Middlesbrough - Hillsborough Source: Dave Howarth

The up-and-coming Chelsea striker Bamford could have gone down an entirely different path if he had accepted an offer from Harvard University instead of choosing to become a footballer.

9. Jamie Roberts

France Wales Rugby Six Nations Source: AP/Press Association Images

In addition to establishing a reputation as one of Wales’ top rugby stars, Roberts qualified as a doctor in 2013, having undertaken eight years of study in order to fulfil this ambition.

10. Frank Lampard

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v West Ham United - Etihad Stadium Source: Lynne Cameron

Not only will Frank Lampard be remembered as one of the finest midfielders of his generation, he also has an unusually high IQ.

Who would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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