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We all dream to be that hero - the person in the limelight - hearing hundreds, thousands, millions of fans around the world cheer you on. Whether it's live or in their homes. It's a dream only some experience.

Batman stands in the shadow behind a boy
A hero is always behind you..

The last year has seen so many sports clubs, professional footballers and local talent exiting the sports they love. COVID-19 has taken it's toll on not just the in-office environment, but it's shattered the dreams of hundreds if not thousands of sportsman around the world. However, we've seen positive light at the end of what has been a long and exhausting journey since early 2020.

We should all look up to Crystal Palace FC, one of the leading football clubs in England, for evolving and becoming the first professional football club to offer an aftercare program for released players.

A question I know many of you may be asking is; what are the chances of becoming a professional footballer? But more importantly, once you have become one, once you have tasted that experience, whether it is for 1, 5, 10, or 15 years, the question that haunts most freshly retired footballers is “what now?”.

It's a question that only recently (eight years after retiring), I can confidently answer. It's a question I see most of my ex-teammates battling to answer as they put on their brave face each time I see them stating "it's all good, I have it under control". However, I can see those sad eyes and the stress deep inside. That worried look as if to say 'HELP ME'. It's a question that some may never get answered as they may feel there is nowhere to turn and no one to listen.

It's a question that your wife, family, and friends can not truly answer. They don’t know what it is like to play in front of millions of people each weekend on the television. They don’t know what it is like to be around your colleagues, teammates, and friends most of the day, every day, all working towards one common goal. In fairness, it is unfair of us to even think they will understand. What I know for sure is that they don’t understand what it feels like when that is all taken away from you.

For some, it's taken away far too soon through injury, or they just weren’t good enough or their bodies simply couldn’t take the rigorous exercising anymore. What is certain, and common, is that empty feeling that can never be replaced. There are certain steps that have guided me over the years. Certain mantras, situations, people, signs, and situations that I can look back on and say, "if only I knew this back then".

Over the next few months, I will start to share my journey as a youth, moving into the ranks of professional football, jumping through the hoops of a life in the public light, where the spotlight was on me for years throughout my professional career, and how my journey came to an end as I faced my obstacles head one. This is a journey I am still on, it's one I continue to tackle as I transition into a professional person outside of the football playing world.

If you're starting out in your professional sports career, you're about to retire, or you are considering going into professional sports, then I believe my blog posts over the next few months will help guide you through your successes and failures. If you pay attention, I am sure your transition might be that little much easier.


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