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5 champions who came too late

It is believed that professional athletes begin to hone their skills in childhood, and, more often than not, this is true. Scouts followed many of them from an early age. Before becoming professionals, future stars gradually improved under the guidance of coaches. However, in sports, as elsewhere, there are exceptions. Some of those we know as some of the best came into the profession as adults. In addition, history knows many examples of famous athletes, whose talent was really revealed only after years of professional careers.

We have selected five athletes whose path to glory began later than their colleagues. Their example proves once again: there is no universal way to succeed in sports, and most importantly, it is never too late to start.

Didier Drogba

5 champions who came too late

Photo: Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Most professional footballers (and even amateurs) start playing as kids, but legendary Chelsea striker Didier Drogba had no permanent experience games up to 15 years old. When he did start playing football, he was hampered by an insufficient amount of training and a whole series of injuries. Because of this, he signed his first contract when he was already 21 years old.

Didier gained recognition after moving from Le Mans to Guingamp. Then in the second season, Drogba scored 17 goals in 34 games and helped the club, which fought for survival in the French Ligue 1, to climb to a record seventh line in the standings a year ago. After that, the top clubs in France became interested in the Ivorian. The following season, Drogba moved to Marseille, where he made a big name for himself, scoring 19 goals in 35 games and earning the title of best player in the championship.

In 2004, Drogba was taken to Chelsea, where he spent his best years. During his eight years at the London club, Didier Drogba won the English championship five times, won the FA Cup four times, received the Golden Boot twice, and also won the main European club trophy - the Champions League. Drogba is ranked 4th in goals for Chelsea.

Tim Duncan

5 champions who came too late

Photo: Chris Covatta / Getty Images

The five-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs was born in the US Virgin Islands, located in the Caribbean. Since childhood, Tim has been active in swimming, won many freestyle competitions and set himself the task of taking part in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. But his plans were thwarted by Hurricane Hugo, which in 1989 destroyed the only 50-meter pool on the islands. Then Duncan was 13 years old. The swimmer had to continue training in the ocean. But it did not work out here either: Tim was very much afraid of sharks, so by the age of 14, the ocean discouraged him from swimming.

His brother-in-law advised Duncan to try his hand at basketball. At firstthe young man looked extremely awkward on the court, although his great growth helped him. But soon Duncan began to make progress, and in his last year at St. Dunstan's Episcopal School, he scored 25 points per game, playing for the local team.

The player then moved to the mainland, where he continued his basketball career at Wake University -Forest. After four years at university, Tim Duncan is up for the 1997 draft. He was selected as the first number by the San Antonio Spurs, in which he later spent his entire career in the NBA. Duncan finished in 2016 with a collection of 5 championship rings, two MVPs (Most Valuable Player of the Season) and 15 All-Star matches.

Nikolay Valuev

5 champions who came too late

Photo: Ronny Hartmann / Bongarts / Getty Images

Nikolai Valuev is the first Russian boxer in history to become the world heavyweight champion ... He holds the record as the tallest and heaviest world champion. Valuev's height is 213 cm, and he weighs about 150 kg. At first, Nikolai's parents did not even imagine that their son would grow up such a giant. In the maternity hospital, Valuev's height was quite normal 52 cm.But it seems that heredity still played a role, because the family tradition said that Nikolai's great-grandfather was a giant.

In kindergarten, Nikolai began to grow rapidly and overtake his peers, and soon sports coaches began to pay attention to him. Valuev began to play basketball, and quite successfully. He became the champion of the country among young men.

Over time, Nikolai left basketball and became an athlete. He received the title of Master of Sports in discus throwing. But even then he did not go further.

Valuev got acquainted with boxing when he was already 20 years old, in 1993. Thanks to his impressive size and athletic training, he made his professional boxing debut in October 1993. However, Nikolai continued to simultaneously perform at the amateur level. At the Goodwill Games, which were held in 1994 in St. Petersburg, Valuev reached the 1/4 finals, where he lost to the future Olympic medalist, world champion and three-time European champion Alexei Lezin only after an additional scoring. And this after only a year of training!

For more than 10 years of performances in the pro-ring, Valuev remained undefeated, however, there were no eminent fighters among his rivals - Nikolai was not interested in major promoters, not seeing big prospects. But in 2004, he was finally noticed by representatives of the serious German promotion company Sauerland Event, and already in 2005 Valuev won the world heavyweight champion belt, defeating John Ruiz on points. The boxer suffered his first defeat in 2007 and temporarily lost the world title. However, a year later Nikolai regained the championship belt. In 2009, shortly after losing to David Haye, Valuev completed his professional career.ieru.

Moreno Torricelli

5 champions who came too late

Photo: Getty Images

Torricelli's story is truly amazing and resembles the plot of a film: a 22-year-old Italian carpenter in his spare time chases the ball for the amateur team of Karatese. And now his team, by chance, converges in a friendly preseason match with the recognized European grandee Juventus of Turin. Juve's coach notices an unknown defender Torricelli and buys him for his club for $ 40 thousand. It's a fairy tale!

Moreno Torricelli spent six seasons for Juventus (1992 - 1998), during which he and his team won the Italian championship three times , Italian Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League. In addition to sporting success, Moreno managed to get the love of fans. The fans nicknamed him Turbo Torricelli for his high flanking speed.

After Juventus, Moreno continued to play at a high level: first he played for the Italian Fiorentina, and then - in the Spanish Espanyol. The footballer finished his career in Arezzo, Italy. Torricelli is a member of the 1996 European Championship and 1998 World Championship with the Italian national team.

Vladimir Kuts

5 champions who came too late

Photo: Allsport Hulton / Archive

The childhood of the legendary Soviet athlete, stayer (long distance runner) Vladimir Kuts had a difficult time. When the Great Patriotic War began, the boy finished 7th grade. At this time, he managed to visit the front as a liaison at the headquarters, as well as work as a loader and tractor driver. After the war he was sent to serve in the Baltic Fleet.

Carried away by sports, in 1948 Vladimir Kuts won the garrison cross-country competition. Then he won the track and field competition, showing the best result at a distance of 5000 meters. This success allowed him to get to the fleet championship in Tallinn, where he took 3rd place. At that time, Kutsu was already 22 - the age at which many athletes are already setting records. Moreover, Vladimir did not have a mentor. But in 1951 he was noticed by one of the best coaches in the country - Leonid Sergeevich Khomenkov. Thanks to him, Kuts began active training, and a year later, under the guidance of another coach - Alexander Chikin, Kuts became a master of sports.

Vladimir Kuts repeatedly became the world record holder in running 5000 and 10,000 meters, as well as 10 once became the champion of the USSR. The runner won the main victories in his career at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, when he was 29 years old. Kuts became the Olympic champion in running at his crown distances - 5000 and 10,000 m.

Vladmir Kuts's glorious achievements ended just 3 years after the Olympics. In 1959, due to serious health problems, he retired from his professional career and became a coach. The renowned runner suffered from severe pain in the legs and abdomen for many years, which were caused by frostbite received while serving in the navy.

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