Former West Ham United ace Gavin Holligan is now a music superstar who has performed alongside legendary icon Stevie Wonder.
The London-born artist, 41, enjoyed a journeyman's career in professional football before mixing it up in non-league during the latter end of his playing days. Holligan turned down a music scholarship at university to focus on football and was picked up by West Ham for a £150k fee after impressing at local side Kingstonian.
He made his debut in February 1999 away at Anfield, replacing Joe Cole as a late second-half substitute, as the Hammers claimed a vital 2-2 draw in their pursuit of Intertoto Cup qualification.
"It was a moment in time I will never forget," said Holligan, speaking to The Sun. "I could have scored too, but for David James pulling off a great save."
But unable to break into the first team, the young striker was shipped out on loan to Leyton Orient and Exeter City though failed to re-kindle his goalscoring touch – a furth spell at Kingstonian also proved unsuccessful and Holligan was released at the end of his contract in east London.
Following a successful trial, he was snapped up by Wycombe Wanderers on a three-year deal, netting eight goals in 43 appearances for the Chairboys. He later turned out for non-league sides Hornchurch and Havant and Waterlooville before ending his career at Lewes, aged just 24.
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He recalled: "I remember pulling up with an injury, and thinking this was the last time I'd ever really play at a competitive level. I knew at that point I couldn't sustain it, plus the demoralisation of having to keep battling back from injury and feeling a bit of a nuisance because you're paid to play football was too much."
Holligan turned to music upon his early retirement from football, working as a hired gun for various artists. After supporting established performers such as Duffy and Gloria Gaynor, Holligan got a gig to work alongside music legend Stevie Wonder in 2010.
The former West Ham striker commented: "He was one of my heroes, so to be asked to work with him was a massive deal for me. Obviously, he's incredibly and insanely talented live. And he's just got this cosmic energy. It's like he can see into your soul."
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