Viv Andeson launches initiative to help former players cope with retirement
Viv Anderson has launched an initiative to bring down the staggering number of former players who suffer depression or financial problems when they retire.
Figures in Alan Gernon's book 'Retired: What Happens to Footballers When the Game's Up' show that 35 per cent of ex-professionals will go through depression once they have hung up their boots.
Two out of every five Premier League stars - who earn an average of £46,000 a week - face the threat of bankruptcy within five years of retiring, and a third will be divorced a year after they finish playing.
The figures are so startling that Anderson, a former England, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest defender, has launched playon, a scheme designed to help footballers - and stars from other sports - cope with life away from the spotlight.
"The biggest challenge, for me, was waiting for the phone to ring, until the penny drops no one wants you out there and you have to go looking," said Anderson, 61.
"When their playing careers are over it can often be a huge shock to the system for former elite athletes.
"Not only do they have to adjust to life outside the game, but they also have to adapt their finances according to their new life.
"As the statistics show it's often an uneasy transition, sometimes traumatic, and in the worst cases, life-threatening."
Football, and sport in general, is littered with examples of players who have struggled to adapt after they have finished competing.
Former QPR and Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle attempted suicide three years ago, and later admitted to a lack of "identity and belonging" after retiring.
Anderson says playon can reunite players with old team-mates in a series of tournaments worldwide and involve them in coaching schools, while a new phone app has been designed to help with networking and revenue opportunities.
Anderson has held meetings with Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor, who supports the idea.
Former Everton and England winger and playon ambassador Trevor Steven added: "A recurring theme year-in, year-out is that sport kicks out people and there must be somewhere for them to go.
"Modern day players are cosseted, far removed from fans, but they will all retire.
"No one has prepared sufficiently. But we have to get the message out there and help the transition from being a current player to an ex-player."