Back in the days of Championship Manager (when Championship Manager was in fact superior to Football Manager) there was a young Manchester United kid who was a great buy as a defensive midfielder. That person was Ronnie Wallwork. Today the same person who was a can’t miss talent on a football game is sitting in a jail cell having been sentenced to 15 months for handling stolen goods as part of a stolen car racket.
It just reminds me that people so many idolise are sometimes not the greatest of role models. They have spent their whole life in or around the game from a very young age and when that goes then they don’t know what to do next. One of my favourite players in the Portsmouth team that won the Championship in 2002/2003 has also seen time inside for perverting the course of justice – that person was Vincent Pericard.
Footballers and trouble is not a new thing. It has been going on for ages but in the modern game where money is not really an object for any footballer who has a decent career in the upper echelons of the footballing ladder it is hard to fathom it out. Do they not get advice on how to cope with life after football? If they fall out of love with the game then who is there to teach them new skills to make a career?
Of course if they had invested their money wisely then they shouldn’t need to work but if you are in your 30s and have enough money that is doesn’t matter if you don’t work you still need to find ways to spend your time. Sitting around doing nothing really isn’t in the nature of most footballers who thrive on adrenaline but neither is anything else except football in their nature.
I know we all think it must be an easy life to be a retired footballer but one of the downsides of being a professional sportsman is what comes next. This is where the Players Union and those around the former professionals need to be strong. It is easy to drift into the wrong crowd and make mistakes. Planning for a future when you have nothing of what you’ve always known (training/matches/team mates) must be a rather daunting task.
For Ronnie Wallwork he made a mistake and is paying for it. However more needs to be done to get former sportsman to embrace life after their careers are done. They’ll still have more than half their lives to live god willing and life is extremely different after their playing days are done.
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