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   Inside Out - North West: Monday March 7, 2005

FOOTBALL AND FASHION

Eugene Dadi and Joana Varela da Veiga dressing a mannequin
From pitch to stitch - Eugene Dadi launches his collection

We all know that football goes hand in hand with fashion, as the likes of Freddie Ljungberg and David Beckham promote designer brands while their wives and girlfriends model the latest designer looks.

But now a crossover is taking place, as Tranmere's Eugene Dadi launches his new fashion collection.

At 31, Eugene Dadi, a striker for Tranmere Rovers F.C., is at the peak of his footballing career.

Now last season's top scorer is this season's most fashionable male.

He may be a pro on the pitch, but how will he fare in the world of fashion?

Inside Out went to Birkenhead to find out about his burgeoning fashion business.

Tailor-made

Joana Varela da Veiga and Eugene Dadi
Joana and Eugene are both self taught designers

Eugene Dadi, together with his French girlfriend Joana Varela da Veiga, has created his own upmarket fashion label.

What started as a relaxing hobby has now become a serious enterprise - and amazingly, neither of them has had any formal training.

"We both like fashion," explains Joana.

"We just enjoy dressing well, we enjoy fabrics and clothes and designers."

Eugene launched his women's wear range back in early 2004, while his menswear collection was launched later in the year.

He has even designed the suits he and his Rovers colleagues wear to away games, making them one of the most stylish team in Division One.

"Footballers are branching out into different fields," says Tranmere captain Jason McAteer.

"Eugene's obviously found a niche and he's come up trumps."

But can football and fashion mix successfully?

Suits you

Jason McAteer
"Eugene's obviously found a niche and he's come up trumps."
Jason McAteer

Many Merseysiders still haven't forgotten Liverpool F.C.'s appearance at the 1996 FA Cup final, where the team wore white Armani suits on the recommendation of then-keeper David James.

The Reds, including current Tranmere skipper Jason McAteer, were ridiculed by the crowd and the press, and ended up losing the match to Man United.

But Rover's manager Brian Little thinks his striker's venture is more likely to be a success. He says:

"I've been in the business a long time and worked with a lot of players with all sorts of interests outside the game, but this is new.

"Eugene is a very unique character. This business is tailor-made for him."

Dedicated follower of fashion

Eugene was born in the Ivory Coast, and has played professional football around the world.

Eugene's passion for fashion began after he began modelling for a leading Austrian menswear and sports gear manufacturer.

But the union between football and fashion is not just a recent thing.

Soccer's first superstar, George Best, used his extravagant lifestyle to cash in on his fame, and opened three designer boutiques around Manchester.

Unfortunately he didn't have the money to support the venture when its success started to dwindle.

Eight years after leaving the world of professional football Best was declared bankrupt.

Today, stars like David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg earn top dollar, not just as professional footballers but as the faces of designer brands like Police sunglasses and Calvin Klein underwear.

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, David Beckham's personal fortune is estimated at £65m, but football hasn't always been such big business.

Top brass

Tommy Smith
At the end of his football career, Tommy Smith opened a pub

Former Liverpool captain Tommy Smith is a football hero to the fans, after he helped his team win four league championships, two FA Cups, two UEFA Cups and the European Cup in the 1960s and '70s.

But for all his hard work, he never got paid more than £200 a week.

Today's equivalent is just £2,000 - less than 2% of the average £90,000 today's Premiership stars take home every Saturday.

Juggling act

Turning your dreams into a second career may be easier for a well paid footballer today - but it still requires hard work and commitment.

The celebrity couple have worked hard to launch their dream, but now it's time to knuckle down and prioritise to keep the business going.

While Eugene juggles fashion with football, girlfriend Joana has to put her career as a jazz singer on hold to concentrate on improving and promoting the new line.

But Tranmere fans can rest easy - Eugene won't be hanging his football boots up for fashion just yet.

"If the business goes well that's great, but I still have to perform on the pitch."

See also ...

On the rest of Inside Out
Footballers' pay
Real footballers' wives
Football club finance
Fake football shirts

On bbc.co.uk
BBC: Sport - Football

On the rest of the web
Tranmere Rovers FC

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