In Depth

Bob Marley: Music, women & soccer

Bob Marley, who would have been 68 on Feb. 6, counted soccer among his life's passions.

Sport among reggae legend's loves

Bob Marley, seen performing in Paris in 1980, played footie with friends at any opportunity. (File photo/Associated Press)

It was said of Bob Marley that he had three loves. In order: music, women and soccer.

The reggae legend wasn't born in a hospital, but it's generally accepted that he was born on this day, Feb. 6, in Nine Mile, St. Ann's Parish, Jamaica.

Throughout his life Marley played soccer with close friends at any available opportunity, a group that at times included friend and countryman Allan "Skill" Cole, who once played in the North American Soccer League.

Whether on a pitch or the concrete at his Hope Road residence, the five-foot-seven Marley was known for his deft footwork and passing ability.

Here, a collection of shots of the man and his soccer ball, from the folks at, followed by a compilation of clips compiled by a fan on Youtube.


Marley survived an assassination attempt and the dangers associated with living in an increasingly violent Kingston in the 1970s, but it would be an informal soccer game against a group of French journalists in May 1977 that led down the path to discovering his was a more prosaic killer, skin cancer. (To be clear, the cancer was pre-existing.)

Marley suffered a bad right toe injury in the scrimmage, and instead of staying off his feet per doctor's orders, continued his European tour. As the foot injury worsened, the options for dealing with the cancer were all unappealing.

Ziggy Marley kicks the ball around in 2006 with members of Canada's national team in Montreal. (Peter McCabe/Canadian Press)

Marley rejected the notion of any type of amputation of the foot as counter to Rastafarian beliefs. It may have not mattered; the cancer spread elsewhere and he died in 1981 at the age of 36.

More than a few of his children have shared his passion for soccer, with Ziggy kicking the ball around with the Canadian national team prior to a friendly with Jamaica in 2006.

Meanwhile, the late-era Marley song Iron Lion Zion has been adopted in recent years as Real Salt Lake's victory song. (The best we could find was a clip of the team's players at a "practice safe text" event ... Hey, it's an important message.)