By Tommie Hoban
For the last 10 years, I had a career as a professional football player, playing for a variety of clubs. My football career took me throughout the levels of the game - starting out on loan in the Conference with Wealdstone to the Premiership with Watford.
From the outside, people often assume footballers have everything they could ever want. You see the flashy cars, the big houses and the lavish lifestyle many of the top players are living. However, this is the minority of the players within the football leagues.
For every Premiership player you see earning £40,000 per week, there will be multiple players in other Leagues doing everything the Premier League player is doing but earning £1000 per week. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is still a good salary. But all of these players are also faced with the fact that the doors to their career will be closing far earlier than people in other lines of work would be. No matter how good you are at your sport or how hard you work in the gym, the chances are your body will have given all it can by your mid to late 30’s (if you’re lucky)!
This time often comes a lot earlier than expected for many players. Injuries happen in the blink of an eye and sometimes can have a devastating effect on a players career. Some may be forced into early retirement or some manage to return to play, but never at the same level as before. Retiring from all that you have known for your whole life at aged 35, after a fantastic 20 year career, is tough enough. But when it is forced on you, before your career has even got going in your 20’s, it can be much harder to swallow.
Players are often faced with an identity crisis. With football being all they have ever known, and most having left school at aged 16 to pursue this, many have no idea where to even start thinking about a new career. Most will also have high outgoings due to the stage of life they are at, many with young families to provide for, mortgages to pay etc. You’re probably wondering by now, where does financial planning come into this! And that would be right here.
My career, unfortunately, was cut a lot shorter than I had hoped it would be due to a variety of different injuries that I won’t bore you with. However, I was fortunate enough to have a dad who was a financial planner. As soon as I turned 18, and started earning good money for my age, he treated me as a client. He helped me plan for my future, make sensible financial decisions and begin building a pyramid of wealth, things we try to do for all clients.
At such a young age, I wasn’t really aware of everything he was doing for me, or how important it would be for me one day in the future. 10 years down the line, aged 27, I decided that my time had come to stop playing football professionally. Due to some of the reasons I touched on earlier, I simply wasn’t enjoying it anymore. However, the only reason that I had the power to make that decision, was due to the financial planning that had gone on throughout my career.
Investing from an early age has given me the comfort blanket to take time out, re-train and begin a new career (as a financial planner as I’m sure you have guessed). I haven’t got the stress of worrying about how I’m going to provide for my young family (two kids aged 3 and 2…help) while I do this. By no means am I saying I have enough money to sit back and relax for the rest of my life. Sadly, I didn’t quite reach the John Terry heights I was hoping for to be able to do that! But financial planning has given me the security to know that I have time now, to plan the next stage of my life, and it has taken away many of the worries and stresses that so many other players feel when they retire from football and move into the next chapter of their lives. It has given me the power to choose what I want to do now, rather than being forced into doing something in order to pay the bills.
Having spent the majority of my life playing football, I have spoken with many players about the fears and worries they have around the thought of retirement. I am now very passionate about trying to educate and help as many footballers and other sports people as I can, so that they can maximise the potential of their earnings while playing their sport.