Spanish soccer star Gerard Piqué might have reached the pinnacle of his sport, but that has not stopped him from looking for success off the field, too.
In 2010, he helped the Spanish national team—widely considered by sports watchers to be among the best clubs in soccer history—land the country's first World Cup title. Now Piqué is looking to conquer his next, albeit slightly geekier, challenge: Video games.
"This idea came when I was 11 or 12 years old," Piqué told CNBC in a recent interview, about his first entrepreneurial venture. His brand, Kerad Games, now employs about 30 programmers just outside of Barcelona, and has a game called Golden Manager on both the iOS and Android platforms.
Not unlike the wildly popular fantasy football leagues in the U.S., Piqué's game lets users build and manage their own soccer teams for online play against their friends. Users can purchase items within the game for real money to help make their team better.
The 6-foot, 4-inch center-back has been the most dominant defensive player on one of the most dominant teams in professional soccer, FC Barcelona. Over the course of his career, Piqué's won two prestigious UEFA Champions League titles with his hometown team.
Those are lessons he thinks Golden Manager players can translate into their own experiences with the game.
"It's about fútbol. It's about being the coach, about being the president of a club," said Piqué. "You can sign new players. It's all about real players, like myself … Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, the biggest stars in Europe."
Piqué is no stranger to technology. With over 10 million followers on Twitter and nearly 3 million on Instagram, the soccer phenom is an avid user of social media. He said he would jump at the chance to do business with Dallas Maverick's owner and tech mogul Mark Cuban. Yet Piqué acknowledges that, even among today's tech savvy sports stars, launching a gaming company is an unusual side gig.
"There are some players that invest in restaurants. They invest in properties," he said. However, "in gaming, it's true that it's not normal for a soccer player to invest in games."
Many athletes take a hands-off approach with their investments, and lend their name and capital to a business venture, but not necessarily spending much time managing it. For his part, Piqué says his relationship with Kerad is different.
The game maker is just a few minutes away from FC Barcelona's practice facility, and Piqué spends three days a week in his office, holding meetings and making business decisions, though he freely admits that when he first started, he knew nothing about the industry.
"I'm enjoying being part of it," Piqué says. "I'm making decisions every week about marketing, about business [and] monetization."
Video games could just be the start of things for Piqué. He's hinted that he may venture into the music industry when his playing days have ended.
That might bring to mind the not-so-successful rap careers of Shaquille O'Neal and the basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest, yet the soccer star has a powerful backer in his corner that could help him escape their fate: His pop star partner Shakira.
The two recently had a second child together, and Piqué attended the 2014 Billboard Music Awards with Shakira in Las Vegas. As it happens, Shakira is also known to give him pointers on playing Golden Manager, so offering up tips on a music career might not be so farfetched.