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From Aldershot Town to Arsenal, clubs get through a huge amount of players. These days, in particular, depending on the level a player is at, a footballers career can change hugely once retirement comes around. For example, players at Aldershot will no doubt have to pursue specific career opportunities when they hang up their boots, whereas a modern-day Premier League star on vast sums of cash can probably focus firmly on retirement life, perhaps dabbling in the odd property development venture with friends.
Such is the money in football now that top-level players are pretty much set for life after signing a deal at a Premier League club. Money has certainly taken over the beautiful game. In previous times, though, when massive TV deals and American businessmen hadn’t impacted English football, some top-flight stars were earning nowhere near the amounts of money that we see the likes of Jack Grealish and Mohamed Salah earn on a weekly basis at their respective clubs. In fact, many former players were forced to enter the world of work soon after leaving the world of football.
A lot of memorable players who impacted the game in a number of ways have gone to have careers in far from memorable professions. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some ex-footballers who ended up in normal jobs after retiring from the game they love.
A tough centre-back in his prime who turned out for the likes of Barnsley, Wigan, Portsmouth and Coventry, Dutchman, Arjan de Zeeuw, returned to the Netherlands to become a police detective, although becoming a doctor was also an option he later didn’t pursue, instead opting to solve crime. On moving into policing, De Zeeuw said: “I was once recognised at work. We were interviewing a suspect about numerous burglaries and the guy said: ‘I know you. You used to be that footballer who played in England!’ So we chatted about football and then carried on discussing the crime.”
Ask most Sunderland and Derby fans about Marco Gabbiadini, and they’ll tell you that he most definitely knew where the goal was. With 226 league goals to his name during a fantastic 19-year career throughout the English league system, Gabbiadini was a reliable frontman who simply loved to score goals. With a persistent knee injury eventually forcing the Nottingham-born striker to hang his boots up, though, he decided to open a bed & breakfast hotel in York, a business venture that is still going strongly today with the help of his wife.
David Hillier won multiple trophies during his time at Arsenal, a feat the current Arsenal team will be hoping to match as they go toe-to-toe with Manchester City and Manchester United for the Premier League title, with many supporters backing the Gunners when it comes to sports betting online and the endless debates on popular social media platforms like Twitter. The success Hillier experienced didn’t lead him into a different career in football, though. Instead, the talented midfield player became a firefighter and contributed to the saving of lives. On his complete career change, Hillier has previously said: “When you save a life or go into a particularly hostile environment, there’s an adrenaline buzz. Firefighting is a team job, you do everything together. It’s just like being a footballer, but on about 100 grand a year less.”
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Some footballers retire and enter a business due to their love of food or music, but Gavin Peacock left the game and discovered his love for God, eventually leaving his role as a pundit for the BBC and training to become a pastor instead. Having played for huge clubs like Newcastle and Chelsea, Peacock evidently fancied a complete career change. On becoming a pastor, Peacock has previously said: “I was reading the Bible – as I had done for many years – when I sensed a burning inside, not just to read it but to teach it. There was a desire to do it. But also a compulsion.”
After a successful career at Manchester City, where he won back-to-back promotions with the Citizens, Jeff Whitley was sadly forced to retire due to numerous issues in his personal life, mainly around drugs and alcohol. Whitley was clearly motivated to fix himself, though, and eventually joined Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance clinic, where he confronted his problems and came out the other side. After his journey to recovery, Whitley became a car dealer in Stockport.