LIFE hasn’t been one small step for former keeper Shaka Hislop. It has been one giant leap!
For not many footballers can say they have worked for NASA and been part of a key project at the space station based in the American capital as part of his impressive CV.
The 48-year old is now living in Massachusetts with wife, Desha and five children, and talks proudly of his time at the NASA Headquarters in Washington DC.
He said: “I have a degree in mechanical engineering and worked at NASA.
“The Space Station project was spread over multiple sites but the DC office where I worked we oversaw the SS Endeavour.
“I only spent a couple of months working there for a summer internship between my third and fourth years but it was an enlightening experience.”
He added: “Six years ago I went back to school at the Alma Mater Howard University and I earned my Executive MBA in 2014.”
Today, the ex-keeper can be seen regularly on screen in the States in a similar role to Gary Neville and Thierry Henry on Sky Sports.
He added: “Since 2008 I started working with the US sports network ESPN doing colour commentary and appearing on their football show called Press Pass, which has since become ESPN FC.
Hislop was raised in Trinidad but was born in London.
Sport was high on the agenda in the Hislop household.
His father, George, was a long jump champion who went to law school and was a teacher while his grandfather on his mother Gina’s side represented the West Indies at cricket.
Bright-as-a-button Shaka had just graduated from university in mechanical engineering when he was spotted by a scout from Reading during a friendly when he was playing for Baltimore Blast in a friendly with Aston Villa.
He signed for Reading in 1992 and was a Royal for three years helping the club to promotion from the old Division Two in 1994.
In the summer of 1995, he joined Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle revolution in 1995 for £1.5m.
Around the same time he married his college sweetheart, Desha who hails from San Fernando in Trinidad.
They met in 1989. She also graduated in 1992 with a degree in marketing.
He added: “After leaving English football after 14 wonderful years at Reading, Newcastle, West Ham and Pompey 2006, I went on and played a year in MLS for Dallas. I finally quit the game the following year.”
Now his children have followed down the educational route in true Hislop tradition.
He said: “My eldest daughter, Maalana, just graduated from Queen Mary University – in London.
“My second eldest daughter, Khazia, is currently in her second year at University of North Carolina where she’s on a gymnastics scholarship.
“My youngest three kids all love playing football.
“My wife, Desha is involved as a realtor – real estate – here in Massachusetts.”
Hislop is also one of the great football trivia questions too.
The Hackney-born former keeper was on England’s subs bench against Chile in 1998 but then played AGAINST Three Lions in the World Cup finals in 2006!
He added: “Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago we didn’t have a professional league, so I never thought about playing professionally because it simply wasn’t an option.
“I ended playing professionally for 15 years and loved every moment of my time in England.
“I think I proved that with determination and dedication your background doesn’t have to hold you back. I have been on the most amazing journey.”
Originally published on thesun.co.uk