It doesn’t matter how good you are. One day, it will all come to an end. Age catches up with all of us – but while most of us can happily roll into middle age doing the same job that we’ve always done, it’s different for pro footballers.
Sure – the cream of the crop will never be out of the spotlight and they have the money to do what they want. Some go into coaching or management, some might become pundits. But for lots of them, there is nothing – just a void.
How many players hang up their boots each year in the lower divisions? Many of those guys don’t have good educations and they didn’t earn enough to kick back and put their feet up for the rest of their lives.
So what do they do?
Jason McAteer has revealed how hard it can be when it call comes to an end in his new book. He says he was suicidal and need counseling to save him:
“Winning becomes like a drug and you get this incredible adrenaline rush. Even when I was playing for Tranmere I would still get that rush and that fulfilment of playing 90 minutes. And then all of a sudden it just gets taken from you, it’s gone. There are no team mates, there’s no winning, there’s no buzz, no adrenaline rush and you can’t replace that. I struggled dealing with that and I think a lot of footballers admit that they found it difficult in their own way.
“In my case I had to fill in a questionnaire [from my counsellor], there were 20 questions but I can’t remember what they were because I wasn’t focusing. She just told me I had to fill it in as honestly as you can and when I went back into the room she told me we needed to spend some time together. She’d actually said to my mum that I was clinically suicidal, that I was in a really bad way.” (Joe.co.uk)