Saturday morning, cinema fans learned that longtime actor Sir. Sean Connery had died at the age of 90. Large numbers of people began posting tributes on social media, including prominent figures from the sports world. AEW star Matt Hardy and many others reminisced about Connery's career while mourning his death.
"RIP to the man who turned me into a James Bond fan, Sean Connery. What an incredible life & career he led. Godspeed," Hardy tweeted on Saturday morning. Many others agreed with this sentiment and referred to Connery as a "legend" in the acting world. These Twitter users discussed Connery's best roles and frequently posted animated Gifs from The Rock. However, one sports figure sparked criticism with his tribute.
"Shaken and, on this occasion, stirred to hear that Sir Sean Connery has passed away. Had the pleasure of playing golf with him on a couple of occasions. A real character and for me, the best Bond. James Bond should be immortal. RIP," wrote former footballer Gary Lineker on Saturday. This tribute prompted multiple reactions as some people made similar comments while others said that now was "not the time for terrible puns."
While Connery was an actor in some of the biggest films and franchises, he also impacted the sports world. He routinely attended the U.S. Open, sitting near Alec Baldwin, Bradley Cooper and Ben Stiller among others. He also turned down an offer to play for Manchester United.
According to the Indian Express, Connery played football for Bonnyrigg Rose, a semi-professional Scottish club, in the early 1950s. He was in his early 20s at the time and hadn't made his mark on Hollywood just yet. East Fife, a club playing in the third division of the Scottish League, also offered Connery a trial.
Finally, Sir Matt Busby, a former Manchester United manager, spotted Connery playing against a local Manchester team. He reportedly came away impressed and offered the actor a contract worth £25 a week contract. Connery contemplated accepting the offer, but he ultimately chose not to due to his age.
"I really wanted to accept because I loved football," Connery told the Scottish magazine Mud and Glory during a 2005 interview. "But I realised that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23." Years later, Connery took on the iconic role of James Bond and went on to experience a prolific career.