Home > Football > One question I am asked most…Do I miss it ?

One question I am asked most…Do I miss it ?

One question that people always ask me is if I miss being a professional footballer.

The life of a pro footballer is the best in the world. It is all I had ever wanted to do from my earliest memories and I was fortunate enough to  live it. The memories I hold will be with me forever.

From the age of 15 football was a full-time occupation. I attended the FA  National Centre of Excellence at Lilleshall from that age and it was a very intense way to be introduced to the world of ‘serious’ football.  From that time football took up my whole life for the next 19 years. Apart from the 6 weeks a year when a pro footballer has some time off it really is extremely intense. And out of that 6 weeks there is a 2 or 3 week period towards the end of June where you need to shape up in preparation for pre-season. Naturally, there is constant pressure to perform or you risk being out of a job. That is a reality for a lower league footballer. During my time at Bristol Rovers I seriously contemplated the fact that I would not find another club. I was in my early 30’s playing reserve team football-badly. Who would want me ? The management team of Paul Trollope and Lennie Lawrence thought that my legs had gone and I would have had to agree at the time !!

Luckily enough for me Keith Alexander took a chance on me and, between him and John Schofield, managed to draw out another couple of years out of me. That is what I call good management !

My move to Notts County though was one which really made me think that I had had my day as a footballer. I was awful. Each time I put on a Notts County shirt I turned into joke. I think I had got to a stage where I was over-saturated with football. True, my legs probably had gone by that time. Two games a week was difficult to manage. Recovery between matches took longer and longer. Sundays felt like a hangover ! My performances were suffering because of it and I was no longer the player I used to be. I just couldn’t get to passes that I could get to a year before. This was so frustrating. The frustration was leading me to play poorly too.

I was also beginning to think that I had done all of the training sessions that were ever done. 19 years of 5 sessions a week. That’s a lot of training sessions. I had also heard all of the team talks that were ever talked. There are only so many ways a manager can motivate a team. At Notts County we were losing most weeks too which never helps.

By the turn of the year, January 2009, I was rarely in the starting line up. I think that I knew I had had my time and was not at all surprised that I was not offered a new contract. I knew the phone would not ring over that summer so prepared myself for life without pro football, for real.

I was not naive to the fact that it was coming. Nothing is forever, especially a pro footballer’s career.

Since my retirement I have been able to look at football from a completely different perspective and enjoy watching it so much more because of it. I have had a break.

 I do, however, miss some things about being a footballer. The early finishes to a days work are something you do not get with many other professions, and is easily taken for granted. The banter, something that all ex-players talk about, is something I miss too. And not to forget the buzz of scoring a goal and being part of a winning team. Now that is special !

So,I hope that this reads as an honest answer to the question. As they say…you are a long time retired.

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  1. Tim
    October 29, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    “I just couldn’t get to passes that I could get to a year before. This was so frustrating. The frustration was leading me to play poorly too.” Jamie, this is not the exclusive preserve of a professional footballer. I call it the mind writing cheques the body can’t cash. At 48 I still keep playing and still keep getting worse – I only ever got asked to play (and pay) because I was fit, but when that goes…. then the eyesight goes ad you start blaming the perfectly laid astro turf.

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