By Neil Meredith
Should we bring Sir Alex Ferguson back to help with player's post career problems?
As we develop our services, we are constantly looking at ways in which we can help players cope with the transitions they face in their careers. What is very clear is that none are harder than that dreaded step into retirement. No more big games. No more dressing room banter. No more adulation. Just a potential void and a need for a new purpose.
It’s evident that players leave it too late. Why would you plan when you enjoy playing so much? Too often we hear stories where players say; “I just thought I would figure it out at the end”, and “No-one was around when I needed them most”.
Our advice to players is to consider your options very carefully and allow the right people to help you plan for your future. Do the research. Ask the questions. Use your time wisely to consider what may help fill that void that is created when you stop playing. Feel free to even get in touch with us if you think you need some guidance from outside of your current circle.
All our founders have their own stories about how they managed transitioning from playing into their second careers, some being forced to retire due to illness and having years of playing taken away under terrible circumstances through to successful transitions into media and business. But nevertheless, the common view is nothing ever replaces the fun on the grass.
The news is constantly littered with stories of players struggling to cope with life after the game. Due to our unique position of trust, we also hear the heart-breaking stories that don’t reach the mainstream media.
At Player 4 Player we are talking to stakeholders at all levels in the game daily and a high percentage of our work is around helping players prepare for media, coaching or business ventures.
As I was doing some research for a presentation we are doing it struck me how many Manchester United ex-players seem to be doing so well after retirement. Is this a coincidence? Is it pure luck? Or is it something more tangible than that?
Did Sir Alex Ferguson’s management approach create a pool of players or well-rounded independent-minded people? As our graphic shows, so many of Sir Alex’s players have gone on to be very successful in their second careers. Some have been even more successful than when playing.
I am a massive fan of what @Rio Ferdinand is doing post his illustrious career and every time I see him speak publicly it’s obvious the “Fergie effect” left its mark on him and most of the players that worked under Sir Alex. Rio’s quote in his chat with @Eddie Hearn for his No Passion No Point podcast really struck a chord;
“I was setting a few things up, so I had a few options at the end of my career that I could go into to make sure that when I retire I ain't gonna sit here and start getting depressed and thinking about 3 o clock”
This comment really hit home; “A lot of my mates (ex-players) sitting with depression, alcohol, gambling as they have no plan. Once you retire there are another 100 names retiring and another 100 names coming down the line each year and I wanted to hit the ground running.”
It's well known in and around football that Rio is a bit of a one off and very driven but surely the high percentage of Manchester United players who have gone on to transition successfully can’t be a coincidence can it? How much did working under Sir Alex influence his players into thinking carefully about being more rounded humans and not just being defined as a player?
As an organisation that is focussed on successful outcomes for footballers, it seems that one of the answers seems to be we all try and talk Sir Alex back into the game to continue his amazing legacy of developing better more rounded humans not just better players.
If you want to get in touch about second career advice then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and your message will be treated with care and discretion and, if requested, one of our former-pro founders will be in touch.