Fashion Spread: Playing a Whole Different Ball Game in ‘In A League of His Own’

IN A OWN LEAGUE OF HIS OWN. He used to make his plays on the soccer field, but now John Halls is a permanent fixture in the modeling world. DA MAN gets to know the soccer player-turned-model a little bit closer


Outfit by Versace, shoes by Ermenegildo Zegna

Up until 2012, John Halls was a familiar face on the English pro soccer scene. But an unexpected twist of fate happened: Unforeseen injuries forced him to retire and embark on an entirely new journey. His leap into the fashion industry turned into a series of fortunate events, as he turned out to be a prolific model with an almost natural affinity with runways and photoshoot sets. So today, the ex-Arsenal defender runs with a new kind of squad as he continues to grace magazine covers, pose for ad campaigns—not excluding Thomas Pink, Next and H&M this season—and prowl the catwalks as if he was never meant to be anything else.

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Outfit by Issey Miyake, shoes by Ermenegildo Zegna

DA MAN: Hi John, how are you doing? Can you tell us where you are now? We heard that you have just come back from a photo shoot in some faraway and exotic location.

John Halls: Hi! I’m very well, thank you. I’m round my nans at the moment for a lovely roast dinner, but, yeah, I have just got back from a nice job in Antigua, which was great.

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Outfit by Kenzo, shoes by Ermenegildo Zegna

DA: You started modeling quite late. Before you went into modeling—you were a professional soccer player. Could you tell us a bit more about your time on the field?

JH: So, I was lucky to be a pro footballer for 14 years up to the age of 30 when I had a bad injury that eventually forced me to retire. I was at Arsenal from the age of 10 and made three appearances before going to Stoke City and Reading F.C.

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Outfit by Alfred Dunhill

DA: Can you share with us some of your highlights when you were playing soccer professionally?

JH: I had a good career, although it was plagued by a lot of injuries. I made three appearances for Arsenal, which was the team I grew up supporting, so that was a bit of a dream come true. I went on to play a few years at Stoke City and Reading F.C. in the Premiership, and I also played for England up to the age of 20.

DA: And then came the untimely end to your soccer days. Could you tell us what exactly happened?

JH: I had suffered a bad injury to my achilles tendon, which eventually finished my career despite a few operations and many injections meant to sort it out.

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Outfit by Thomas Pink

“My family was really excited, but I definitely still get ripped by my friends about being a model”

DA: A lot of people find it hard to let go of a dream, especially when it’s something exciting like their favorite sport. How did you cope with that?

JH: I had a really bad time coming out of the sport I loved. The first few months were really tough, but I’ve got a great family around me, and they helped me a lot.

DA: After leaving soccer behind, what made you look into modeling as an alternative?

JH: A few months before I retired, I met my current agents [Next] and they gave me their card. But I thought nothing of it until I actually finished football and I phoned them and begged for a job!

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Outfit by Giorgio Armani

DA: How long did it take you to realize that, yes, modeling is your future?

JH: I still consider myself feel relatively new to modeling, so I think I’ve only just realised this could hopefully last for a while and that it’s something I could actually make a career from.

DA: How did your friends and family react when your image started to transform from the roughand- tumble footballer to a decidedly more refined fashion model?

JH: My family was really excited and proud, but I definitely still get ripped by my friends about being a model! I won’t tell you some of the things that get said.

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Jacket by Ermenegildo Zegna, shirt by Ted Baker, trousers and shoes by Kenzo

DA: Do you still remember your first modeling gig? What was it like to be in front of the camera for the first time?

JH: I actually modeled as a kid, so it wasn’t too strange going back in front of the camera. I worked quite a bit up to the age of 11 and being in a Kylie Minogue video was one of my bigger jobs. Football then took over and I stopped modeling.

DA: Tell us a bit more about your “makeover,” both in terms of the physical and mental changes you underwent as you really started to embrace the modeling career?

JH: I think I’ve always taken care of my appearance so the transformation to modeling didn’t seem to extreme except for a few new haircuts and a bit more moisturising. [Laughs]

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Blazer by Kenzo, sweater by Alfred Dunhill, trousers by Etro, shoes by Tod’s

“I actually modeled as a kid. I worked up to the age of 11 and was featured in a Kylie Minogue video”

DA: Were there any elements from your sporting career that you took into the world of modeling?

JH: My experience as a good team player has helped me quite a bit in the modeling world. I value everyone’s role when on set, from the photographer to the hair stylist to the runner. It’s 100 percent a team effort!

DA: More and more pro athletes dabble in modeling. What do you think about this phenomenon?

JH: I think it’s great if they are able to fit modeling in and around their training. As long as they’re not stealing any jobs from me, it’s all good. [Laughs]

DA: What would you say are the main challenges that male models today have to face?

JH: Obviously, keeping in shape and looking good is a big part of being a model. But I also think that a lot of models struggle with the inconsistency of work and not knowing where the next job is going to come from.

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Jacket by Alfred Dunhill, swimwear by Calvin Klein

DA: What has been your favorite modeling project so far? A favorite campaign? Or something unforgettable that you’ve done as a model?

JH: I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some great places; but my favorite so far has to be my latest trip to Antigua. There was this unbelievable villa and it was a great company shot for Next’s directory.

DA: Where do you see yourself in five or maybe ten years from now?

JH: I like to think I’d still be modeling but also doing something else in fashion. I do have a few plans of my own.

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Outfit and shoes by Etro

DA: Have you ever thought about what you would be doing now if modeling didn’t work out for you?

JH: I would probably still be doing something in football, coaching or something along those lines.

DA: When you’re not on a photo shoot set or a runway, what do you usually wear?

JH: I’m really into my clothes and always take a lot of time with my appearance. I do love a good blazer.

DA: And what tips and advice do you have to be a stylish dresser?

JH: My main tip would be to make sure your clothes fit correctly. You can spend a fortune on a suit, but if the fit’s not right, it’s not going to look good.

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Outfit by Gucci

DA: Who are the biggest influencers in your life and career?

JH: My family and friends have always been the main influencers in my life and my professional career.

DA: What do you usually do during the downtimes between photo shoots and runway shows?

JH: I like to spend time with my girlfriend, friends and family. I have a dog and I love walking him. Also, I love to do a bit of betting once in a while, as it keeps me busy. I wouldn’t recommend it though! [Laughs]

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Outfit and shoes by Ted Baker

DA: What would be the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring models?

JH: Work hard and always act professional.

DA: What are the three most important things that you can’t live without?

JH: Family, friends and meat.

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Tank top by Gucci, trousers by Alfred Dunhill, shoes by Giorgio Armani

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Outfit by Ermenegildo Zegna

Photography Marcos Domingo Sánchez

Styling Angel Cabezuelo

Grooming Gloria Peñaranda using MAC Cosmetics

Hairdo Matthew Waddoups using KIN Cosmetics

Production DeeBee Creatives