Ben Burgess has written an article for the BBC about his journey after retirement and his career change from a professional footballer to a teacher. He also speaks about the emotions he experienced as well as his family and friends reactions.
Ben Burgess is a retired, English born, Irish Footballer who is best known playing for Hull City and Blackpool. At the age of 30 he had just signed a two year deal with Tranmere Rovers but struggled to make it through the weeks of pre-season.
Long standing knee problems left his emotions running high as confusion, fear, anger and desperation set in. The only job Ben saw himself wanting to do was coming to an end.
“We have two young children and mortgages to pay for, how can I pay these without football? Can I continue to support my family as I have always wanted to?”
These were just some of the questions whizzing around his head but Ben describes them as “harrowing thoughts that will enter a footballer’s head at some stage”.
Signing a new contract should be an exciting moment, but this time he felt empty inside and wanted to cry. Burgess found it hard to say goodbye to his teammates only a couple of weeks after signing and the reality of never scoring a goal again began to sink in.
“All footballers need to realise that there is so much to achieve and enjoy outside of the “football bubble” we have been cocooned in all our lives.”
Ben Burgess speaks highly of the Professional Footballers’ Association’s range of vocational and educational courses to prep footballers for retirement and life after football. He has completed a degree in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting at Staffordshire University followed by radio commentary for the BBC and writing for various sports magazines. Although journalism appealed to Ben he had his heart set on a career in teaching. Just a month after retirement, he began studying a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
“Teaching won’t pay the bills,” Ben was repeatedly informed by family and friends which made him question whether a year’s training would be enough to secure a job.
Once Ben had swapped the changing rooms for classrooms he explained “Nothing quite compares to scoring a goal, but watching a child finally grasp what you’ve spent hours teaching them, or to watch a boy who hates reading pick up a book and talk passionately about it, comes pretty close”.
Ben Burgess has successfully completed his first year in teaching and aspires to climb the ladder to Headmaster, however he understands how difficult it can be to make the transition into a new career after football.
“Whenever I speak to ex-team-mates/current players they really struggle to even contemplate that I’m doing something outside of football”.
When it comes to retirement, a lot of footballers struggle to overcome the fear and apprehension of applying for new jobs and starting a career, but Ben’s story shows it is possible to retire from the game at a young age and find your feet in the next stage of working life.
“I chose a different path, one that works for me. I understand everyone has different ideas and dreams but I’d just advise footballers to keep an open mind”.