PFA member, Billy Kee is on track to building a future as a bricklayer after overcoming the struggles he experienced being a professional footballer.
Kee joined Leicester City in 2007, signing a professional contract with the club in 2009. He went on to play for Torquay United, Burton Albion and Accrington Stanley, the latter of who retired the No 29 shirt in honour of their former striker, who scored 83 goals in 243 appearances for the club across two spells.
Although Kee enjoyed a successful playing career, it was not without its challenges. Kee told the Guardian that on the final day of last season, he had faked an injury because he simply did not want to play anymore: “I had a little niggle in my knee but it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. I didn’t want to be there and I’d just had enough because it broke me down so much and I couldn’t cope anymore.”
During his time as a professional footballer, Kee struggled with bulimia, anxiety and depression. After realising he could not live a healthy life whilst playing professionally Kee retired, enjoyed some time away with his family and sought help from the PFA.
Engaging with an eating-disorder clinic, Kee now has a lifestyle that allows him to enjoy his downtime with his family and helps him try and overcome the ‘rat that runs around your head’, he explains: “That rat is still there – you just have to put it in a box sometimes. I don’t think it is ever going to go away but I have to learn to live with it in the right ways. It’s almost a case of training the rat now.”
He explained of his new work on the building site: “Finishing training at 12.30pm gave me too much thinking time, but coming home from work now, you’re absolutely knackered and you’re ready to have a couple of beers, sit with the missus and the kids, have a bit of dinner and go to bed, and it’s lovely. When I was in football, I don’t think I ever went to bed before midnight. I was on edge and always overthinking. Now I go to bed every night at 10 o’clock.”
From his own experience, Kee encourages any players, former or current, who are struggling with any issues to contact the PFA for assistance. ““These players are scared because they have families and mortgages to pay but it’s good people are reaching out for help because it shows we’re moving in the right direction.
“When your dream comes to an end, you need to go and live another dream and my next dream is to build a house and to live in it as a big, happy family.
“If there’s any footballer going through all this, I’d say don’t be scared to opt out and go and do something else, because the PFA will help you.”
Contact the PFA
All services are private and confidential, current or former players (or concerned friends and family) can access support from The PFA Charity:
• e: firstname.lastname@example.org
• t: 07500 000 777