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27th Aug 2019

How do footballers cope without the game after retirement?

Wayne Farry

Sponsored by Paddy Power

How do players adjust from the intensity of the Premier League into retirement?

In the latest episode of Liquid Football together with Paddy Power, Steve Sidwell and Wayne Bridge discuss the frustrations of retirement and nostalgia of looking back at their playing days with host Kelly Cates.

Wayne recalls that the first thing he missed wasn’t the game time, but rather the day-to-day routine: “You’d work hard, your legs would feel sore, you’d jump into an ice bath […] but you’d feel so good afterwards.”

So, game time was only as good as the training that got you there, and the pain was its own reward. Steve keeps up this routine by playing with a veteran’s team, keeping fit and even lifting silverware in the form of the Surrey Cup, “I love it, I still get that buzz.” The physical fitness and the desire to win still play a big role in post-professional life for these two.

Both veterans agree that when they do still play though, their dwindling talent is hard to deal with. The competitiveness and desire are still there but particularly in Wayne’s case, the ability can’t keep up.

“I want to do the stuff I used to do, and I can’t […] I can’t walk for a week after football,” he revealed.

In order to stay competitive and fit after years of English football, Wayne picked up boxing for a charity event, showing the draw of the adrenaline to ex-pros. If players such as Wayne and Steve are pulled back into local sports, then it’s clear that the Premier League, and football in general, breeds competitiveness into certain players.

The last factor that both guests say has markedly changed since their retirement is the connection with their respective clubs and fans.

Clubs were akin to family for both Wayne and Steve, with Wayne saying of his Chelsea departure: “Yeah, I had tears leaving to be honest, I really wanted to stay.”

The relationship between club and player is clearly a longstanding one, and the emotion that Wayne recalls shows why so many players take on coaching and management roles post-retirement. Both players’ insights illuminate the addictiveness of professional football and how it changes the player and perhaps the person permanently.