GAVIN HENSON was once the David Beckham of rugby union and dated a global pop star – now he is pulling pints in his local.
The former professional rugby union player, 41, has swapped the sporting spotlight for running a community pub in Wales.
Gavin Henson was married to singer Charlotte Church[/caption]
It saw him dubbed the David Beckham of rugby[/caption]
Henson’s performance against England in 2005, epitomised by his famous tackle on Matthew Tait, helped establish him as one of the game’s biggest talents[/caption]
Gavin Henson celebrates his winning kick against England on the way to the Grand Slam in 2005[/caption]
Henson, who was in a relationship with singing sensation Charlotte Church and had two children with the star, is now in charge of The Fox in the Vale of Glamorgan alongside his wife Katie.
The former fly-half, fullback and inside centre played for the likes of Llanelli, Swansea RFC, the Ospreys, Saracens, Toulon, Cardiff Blues, London Welsh, Bath, Bristol and the Dragons before his retirement in 2019.
Most notably he won 33 caps for Wales, helping them to Grand Slams in the 2005 and 2008 Six Nations.
He also joined the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand.
Henson regularly found himself in the headlines as arguably rugby’s highest-profile player, but now his closest similarity to Beckham is playing for his pub’s Sunday League team – although he still shaves his legs before games.
Speaking to The Times, he said: “I play defensive midfield. I’m the only one with the discipline; everyone else wants to go up and score. And I take the free kicks.”
Henson’s off-field antics often attracted the spotlight as much as his feats did on it, but he is adamant that he was “good for the game”.
He says: “I could have been better for the game. Did it rub people up the wrong way? Maybe. The attention, or the way I was? I don’t know. Are we crying out for a personality to be in the game right now? Probably, yes.
“I like watching football, see. I always watched Man United. Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, the flamboyant footballers, white boots.
“I loved the entertainers. I was driven by playing for the coach but also for the fans — I just wanted to entertain. I don’t know why but that’s the way I was.
“I didn’t want to score tries, I didn’t want the limelight like that. I preferred putting people in. I’d like to think I wasn’t selfish at all.
“But they were quite an effective 33 caps, no? I did leave a stamp on the game. Some people get 50-60 games and you can’t really recall their moments.
“I just struggled with my body. If I knew how to manage it a bit earlier, I’d have been a lot better for it. I am at peace with what I achieved.”
Henson continued: “Where my weakness was — and I probably needed help on this — you look at [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi, [think] ‘How do they keep on doing it?’ I think they just set new goals.
“My goal was always: play for Wales, play for British Lions. When I achieved that, I didn’t set a new goal. I felt I’d achieved what I wanted. I got to the top of the mountain and there wasn’t much up there. I then flew down it.”
After his injury problems eventually proved to be too much for him mentally, he opted to step away from the game he grew up loving.
After working as a labourer for a while, the man who famously used to admire himself in the mirror before matches now says he has “lost all my muscle” after shedding over two stone.
But now he is back working “full-on” running The Fox with his wife, whom he has one son with, and he appears to be loving life again.
Henson said: “My friend was putting pressure on me to buy it. I was coming to the end of my career and it had been sat here for 18 months, two years.
“It was not nice for the village and I needed something to do after rugby and to be busy, not to mourn rugby and get depressed, as they say everyone does. But be careful what you wish for, because this is so full-on.
“I’m just Daddy now, without the risk of getting injured.”
He was in a relationship with singing sensation Church[/caption]
The former Wales international is now pulling pints in his local[/caption]