Life after football not always a dream

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Few jobs in life can compare to that of a Premier League footballer.

The dream of most children, particularly in England, is to play the game as a professional, and whilst it’s glory on the pitch that inspires us on the playground, the riches that come in-turn aren’t to be sniffed at, particularly at the highest level.

Earning more than the common-man takes home in a year on a weekly basis, it’s easy to see and understand why the sums of money earned by players can draw resentment.

Not just resentment, but a lack of understanding when a footballer falls on troubled times. Gambling and alcohol addictions are one thing, and the game as a whole has made great strides to help players both past and present combat their problems. The work of the Sporting Chance Clinic in particular has been particularly impressive.


But life post-football is a different subject entirely, and one that is difficult to understand for someone who hasn’t played the game at the very highest level. I was never fortunate enough to grace the professional football stage, but believe there is method to the seeming madness of retiring pre-40 with millions in the bank.

“It doesn't matter how much you earn or what lifestyle you have, not playing football is really difficult,” Robbie Savage told The Sun today.

I still believe that the very best players aren’t motivated by money. It’s a difficult thing to prove, because even players who aren’t that good earn a lot.

Let’s not kid ourselves; Savage was not the best player in the world. But, he certainly wasn’t the worst, enjoyed plenty of years in the best league in the world and made a fantastic living out of it. After all, he graduated from the Manchester United academy.

A player who loved to rile both opposition players and fans alike, Savage has managed to transform his image post-football with immediate punditry work for both the BBC and ESPN, as well as a stint on Strictly Come Dancing.


"I've got a good job now with the BBC and ESPN, I've got loads of things going on,” he continued.

"I can't imagine what it must be like to be at home all day wondering what to do. You retire at such a young age and I think more should be done, definitely."

But what can be done? There are only so many jobs within the game for those who want to coach or manage, so many positions available on the TV for anyone who wants to work in the media, or columns available for those who want to write in the national newspapers.

It isn’t just post-career either. A footballer has to rest just as much as they play. And what can a young man who earns millions of pounds a year do when he’s sitting at home on the sofa?

"There is a lot of boredom in football. Don't get me wrong, it's the best job in the world, no question, but the higher up the scale you go the more rest you need,” continued Savage.

"Rest is very important but it's also very boring. You've got game after game after game and you have to be at your best for each one.

"The boredom is quite hard sometimes but there are only so many clothes you can buy, cars you can purchase and golf courses you can play.”

Whilst Savage’s final comment is likely to lose some of those won over by the argument, the point is that, whether playing or not, players can become bored very easily.

It’s difficult to imagine Mario Balotelli laying on his couch, reading a book day-after-day once training finishes in the early afternoon.

At least a professional has the buzz of a match on Saturday’s to look forward too, not to mention the camaraderie that’s created within a team during training and on trips away from home.

Once your career’s over, that has gone, and one imagines life can become very lonely if another job doesn’t become available. Skilled in the art of playing football, there isn’t much away from the field that you can be prepared for.

Perhaps it’s that lack of togetherness, a team spirit that is suddenly missing from life, which hurts players most.

Money can’t buy you happiness, as the saying goes, and if your happiest on a football pitch for 90 minutes, then it’s difficult to find joy outside of that domain no matter how much your worth.

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