quarter of former sportsmen have battled with health, addiction or financial
problems after retiring, according to a British survey published on Thursday.
More than 1
200 retired footballers, rugby union and league players, jockeys and cricketers
were polled by the Professional Players Federation, an umbrella body of
players' unions that interviewed a wide range of former sports professionals
aged from 22 to 95.
Taylor, the PPF general secretary, told Reuters some female jockeys may have
been polled, but 99 percent of the respondents were men.
Struggling with demons
showed that while 79% said they were content with their lives, 32% said they
did not feel in control in the first two years after leaving sport. Almost a
quarter of them – 24% – said they had suffered from physical and mental health
issues or financial and addiction problems as they attempted to embark on
second careers once their professional sporting days were over.
footballers have publicly struggled with their demons with former Manchester
United and Northern Ireland great George Best the most notable example. Former
England midfielder Paul Gascoigne's problems have also been well documented
over the last few years. Some 16% said they experienced depression or
"feelings of despair", 17% had anxiety or stress issues and 16%
suffered a loss of self-esteem once they retired.
Life out of the spotlight
Batson, the PPF chairman said in a release accompanying the survey: "This
important study emphasises the challenges professional sportspeople face in
retirement and it is crucial we help them adjust to life out of the spotlight.
Porter, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, which
initiated the study, added: "It is important that we continue to provide
support, particularly in the crucial two year period after they stop playing.
most recent example of a former sportsman struggling to cope is Kenny Sansom,
the ex-Arsenal defender who played 86 times for England and took part in two
World Cups. His alcoholism was so bad he admitted to sleeping on park benches.
you come to the end of your career you obviously have more time on your hands
and you drink three or four times a week, then it becomes every day, and at one
stage I was drinking eight or nine bottles of wine a day," he told Sky
Sports News on Thursday.
drinking to forget problems and I didn't mind sleeping rough because I'd get
miserably drunk and then just fall asleep somewhere on a park bench," he
added. The PPF was organising a one-day conference in Birmingham to help former
professionals cope with the trials of life as they embark on a second career.
research found that almost half retained a link to their sport in some
capacity, and the average salary among those surveyed was between 30 000 pounds
(R470 000) and 40 000 pounds, above the average national wage of 26 000 pounds.