Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Life After Football

It’s easily forgotten within today’s professional era, but merely a decade or two ago the life of a retired footballer was drastically different to the comfortable early retirements and media appearances that we see today. In the professional era players, salaries allow them to live comfortably upon retirement, providing they have invested their earnings wisely during their playing days, something that NVA Entertainment’s Chris Nathaniel has stressed is vital for players in the modern game. As Nathaniel has said, “We look for clubs for players and take them through entrepreneurial lessons to live a worthy life after football.” Management like this wasn’t available just a couple of decades ago and upon retirement, many former players were faced with the prospect of having to get ‘proper jobs’, the majority having left education as young teenagers with little experience or skills.

David Hillier won just about every domestic and European trophy on offer whilst playing for Arsenal throughout the early ‘90s. However, following his retirement at 33, Hillier knew he needed to get a job to supplement his career earnings and so he applied to be a fireman in his hometown of Bristol. Given that Hillier had known nothing else but football since age 11, it’s not surprising it took him four interviews to get the job! He enjoys the familiar team environment and adrenaline rush of firefighting but as he himself has said, “I am – and always will be – a footballer.”

For former Blackburn Rovers and England winger Stuart Ripley, football got in the way of his plans to go to University and get an education. After gaining nine O-Levels, Ripley’s academic pursuits were put on hold when he joined Middlesbrough at the age of 16, and it wasn’t until his retirement at 34, following a stellar career, that he could pick up where he left off. Ripley quickly enrolled at the University of Lancashire where he would study law, later qualifying to become a solicitor. Stuart is now an aspiring law lecturer and wishes to provide legal and experiential advice to young players.

Former Wigan captain Arjan De Zeeuw can claim to have had the most interesting of post-football career changes. De Zeeuw put his medical career on hold to be a footballer, but upon returning to the Netherlands decided that a fast-track police detective programme was a better fit! ‘The Peacemaker’ certainly has the temperament for the job.