The Super Bowl is undoubtedly one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, despite the fact huge sections of the globe still refuse to pay much attention to American Football.
Football – yes, of the soccer variety – remains the undisputed numero uno in several regions, including Europe, South America and Africa.
And that means it is footballers who are idolised for their physical prowess by fans willing to pay good money to see them strut their stuff on the pitch and produce moments of skill most people could only dream of being able to master.
However, with the LA Rams and New England Patriots set to battle it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Sunday evening, we’ve been thinking about a potential crossover.
Some of the key skills needed to succeed in both sports are transferable – so which footballers would be best equipped to succeed in the NFL?
Of course, some of the more brittle players would not be able to hack the physicality involved. But there’s plenty of players who – with a little bit of training – would have a chance of making a fist of it.
We’re not saying it wouldn’t be a big ask – but it’s time to use your imagination, folks.
Quarterback: Cesc Fabregas and Paul Pogba
The brains of the operation. The QB calls the plays, with precision and creativity high on the list of attributes required.
Fabregas loves nothing more than sitting deep and spraying balls to both sides of the pitch, so we fancy him to be able to thrive in the centre of proceedings. His legs have gone, but he hasn’t lost his touch – and probably never will.
As for Pogba, him and Hollywood passes were born to be together. There’s a time and a place for long, sweeping diagonal passes and if the Frenchman had his way that would be every time he touched the ball, which is why he’s tailor made for a QB role.
Running Back: Adama Traore and Marcus Rashford
A bit of an all-rounder is needed here, with a focus on speed and an ability to thrive under contact.
Footballers are often accused of lacking cojones, with diving antics cited as a reason why they would be unable to cope in other professional sporting scenarios. However, they are capable of putting it about when they want to.
Traore operates at a million miles per second and his relentless desire to take on opponents in one-on-one situations would serve him well. Rashford is a direct runner and boasts electric pace but, crucially, is capable of close control when a full tilt.
Fullback: Mousa Dembele and Blaise Matuidi
Good runners with exceptional strength are required for this role; think running back but heartier.
The man Mauricio Pochettino once called a genius has headed to China, but he still boasts a unique dribbling style that few players ever got to grips with.
The Belgian glides across the pitch and always seems to squirm his way out of trouble, despite appearing to constantly be on the brink of losing the ball.
Meanwhile, Matuidi relishes every opportunity to drive his team forward into the final third of the pitch. He’s a confident passer but has the stocky build that means the opposition find it hard to knock him off his stride.
Offensive Line: Victor Wanyama and Jannik Vestergaard
These guys rarely touch the ball and are usually the biggest, strongest players on the team. Simply put, only immovable objects need to apply.
Step forward the fridges that are Wanyama and Vestergaard.
The Spurs midfielder packs a serious punch (remember that goal at Anfield?) and provides a physical presence few footballers can match.
Vestergaard is a towering 6′ 6″ and possesses super-human Scandinavian strength.
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Wide Receiver: Eden Hazard and Cristiano Ronaldo
Speed, vision and hand-eye co-ordination are needed to ensure that the quarterback’s passes find their target in wide areas.
Hazard has all three traits in abundance, plus the ability to produce a sprinkle of magic when it matters most. He’s not the tallest – but an excellent understanding with Fabregas should mean that’s not a problem.
As for Ronaldo, the Juventus forward could probably turn his hand to any sport given that his athleticism and dedication are second to none.
He relishes the big moments and operating at wide receiver would allow him to get plenty of camera time and present plenty of opportunities to make it all about him.
Tight End: Xherdan Shaqiri and Diego Costa
A hybrid between a receiver and an offensive lineman; tight ends need to be able to catch but also have enough strength to dominate on the line.
Costa is a certified wind-up merchant and loves getting inside his opponents’ heads – which means his blocking game would be on point. A full blown case of the crazies also helps in that department.
Shaqiri’s nickname may be ‘The Magic Dwarf’ but he’s our second – somewhat left field – pick at tight end. The Switzerland international makes up for lack of height with a stocky frame that defies his size – and must make finding jeans that fit correctly incredibly difficult.
Defensive Line: Diego Godín and Aleksandar Mitrović
The first line of defence needs to be able to handle themselves and put a swift end to the opposition attacks.
Look no further than Mr. Mitrovic for someone who is willing to put their body on the line for the cause.
With Godin adding a spot of Uruguayan spirit to this defensive line, we’d have the ability to scrap it out with the very best.
Linebacker: Sergio Ramos and Harry Maguire
With a nickname like Slabhead, Maguire was always going to make the cut. He’s made a name for himself by being willing to put his head in where it hurts.
When the red mist descends, Ramos is a dangerous individual. But his experience levels – and superb positional sense – are not to be sniffed at.
Cornerback: Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Kyle Walker
The cornerbacks are usually the fastest players in defence and spend a lot of their time covering wide receivers.
Walker may not be the best defender – or social media expert – but his speed helps to get him out of some very sticky situations.
Wan-Bissaka has proven himself to be an excellent tackler and is already a master when it comes to interceptions. The Crystal Palace youngster still has a lot to learn, but he’s on track to become a world beater.
Safety: Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane
Every safety must be quick and strong but also able to provide run support. That means they need to have a bit about them upstairs.
Often the last line of defence, they have to stand up and be counted when it matters.
Basically, they’re someone you’d put your house on.
Van Dijk has developed so rapidly at Liverpool that few fans would not put him in their top three central defenders. Varane is occasionally overlooked – but he always delivers on the big occasion.
Kicker: Harry Kane and Ederson
Accuracy from the floor is the order of the day. Kane is a self-confessed NFL fanboy, having taken inspiration from Tom Brady’s story en route to the highest level.
The Spurs striker has already had a go at NFL and proved himself to be a dab hand at kicking dead straight.
Meanwhile, the distance Ederson can get on his goal kicks makes him a prime candidate to thrive with a pigskin at his feet.
Punter: Jordan Pickord and Alisson
Accuracy from hand is needed by the punter if the offensive team fails to get a first down.
Pickford’s pinpoint delivery won the hearts of England fans at the World Cup while Alisson is capable of dropping a long-range pass on a sixpence.