- Viv Anderson has been involved with elite footballers who are going through difficulties
- The former England international is current running a program called PlayOn Pro for the initiative
- According to Anderson, several players have been unable to live their normal lives after retirement
Former Arsenal star Viva Anderson has taken the responsibility to help retired players who are finding it hard to cope with depression.
The European Cup winner created an organization called PlayOn Pro in 2017 after identifying serious weaknesses of how former professionals were being treated after retirement.
Sports stars usually find themselves living very different lives when their short-term career come to a close.
These players usually have financial issues, broken marriages, excommunication and many other difficulties in they encounter after retirement.
“When you speak to players, the biggest thing that they miss is the day-to-day, it’s the banter, it’s the mickey-taking, being around 20-odd lads that you train with, you socialise with,” explains Viv Anderson.
“I had somebody in who had retired last year and I asked him how many players’ numbers he had in his phone. He had four, but had been at seven or eight clubs. Four players! They lose contact.”
“Seventy-five per cent of players who retire get divorced within the first year, and you’ve earned a lot of money but then half of it goes to the wife and the family, and you think ‘I’ve got to get a job, because I’ve done nothing else. I’ve been a footballer and had no formal education, what do I do? What am I qualified to do?’” the former Arsenal star tells Goal.
“Remember this is not just about footballers, it’s about sportspeople at an elite level. Gail Emms had been a badminton player since she was seven, she’d got a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics, came back and everybody’s saying ‘Come on this show, do this, do that’.
“Six months after the limelight’s gone, she couldn’t pay her mortgage because she had no formal education. She’d been a badminton player, she had strived to get a medal in the Olympics and she couldn’t do anything else.”
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The PlayOn Pro also allows these elite sportsmen link up with other people in their kind of situation, to help them get back into the kind of environment in which they have become accustomed.
“People have dedicated their life to a sport and when the light goes off and the agent doesn’t want you because he’s on to the next shiny thing… what do you do?
“This is a place where they can go. It turns out to be a self-help group… ‘What happened to you?’ and ‘Who did you speak to?’ and ‘Could you give me the name of this person because I might be in some sort of difficulty’.
“There’s all sorts of things. If we can give them work, or give them an opportunity to speak to people who they’ve not seen for 20 years, this is an avenue that’s open to them.”
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had earlier reported that Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has debunked rumours he wants to leave the club in January after getting an offer from Inter Milan.
The ex-Germany international signed a huge £350,000 a-week contract last January but has been struggling under new manager Unai Emery.
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