I came across the above article this week. It shines a light on the slim chance of making it as a Professional Footballer and the impact that the disappointment can have on young players. Professional Football Clubs recruit players from young ages. Parents and friends are excited for the kid; the potential is sky high; the glory, the status, the financial rewards. A player may be at an Academy for ten years and then be released. What then?
In my day as a footballer, I was a mature 22 when my career ended, and I was released from my club after 7 years of being 100% engrained in the culture and day to day universe that it was. There was zero support from that moment. The door closed; you were on your own. Fortunately for me I had continued with education whilst being a footballer, so had skills to fall back on. That was rare back then for footballers. Fast forward to now and the difference between a player making it and not is vast. Multi-million-dollar contracts await Premier League footballers. Falling back on being an accountant, plumber, electrician, teacher etc doesn’t compare financially but that is not the be all, end all for happiness.
"What is important for young players is an education that there is more to life. There are other avenues to explore; the world is wide and the paths to success and happiness are many, not just one."
That doesn’t take from the focus and commitment required in giving your absolute utmost to succeed as a footballer but what it does do is prepare you for the ‘what if I am part of the 97%’ who don’t become professional players.
It's encouraging to see clubs like Crystal Palace continue to support players for years after their release and good to see this light being shone. It’s an important aspect for parents, friends and importantly the players to be aware of and prepared for.