Players may experience many different feelings when they retire. In this section we focus on the effects of anger.

Facts about Professional Footballers and Retirement  

As a professional footballer you are automatically a member of the PFA for life. Once you retire you can take courses that include construction, IT, sports science, physiotherapy, TV and media/journalism or gym instruction.

  • The PFA pays 50 per cent towards books and accredited courses
  • You can access a pension from the age of 35* but if you retire earlier you may have to wait to receive this.
  • The average life span of a player is now seven years. A player’s wage could drop by as much as 50-75% when he stops playing
  • Many players want to stay in football in some capacity. Players often opt to train as coaches but this is a difficult market to get into. Another option for players is TV commentary/sports journalism.
  • Some players are unable to come to terms with the fact that they are no longer professional footballers. The casualty rates for drink, depression and other mental health problems are high, as are divorce rates.

* This applies to members who joined the pension scheme prior to governement changes in 2006. Members who joined the scheme after 2006, access their pension at 55. 

What Can Happen To Players When They Retire?

Most professional players began playing as children and will have been playing professionally since their late teens. They have known nothing else, are trained for nothing else and are qualified for nothing else. While some players retrain to become football or sports coaches, managers or physios, for some the end of a career can be unnerving and depressing.

Apart from sadness at leaving the game there are more practical considerations to do with income, supporting the family and keeping everything going. After years of being managed suddenly players have to manage things for themselves – which can be frightening prospect when for years you ‘vet just had to turn up, train and play the game.

Anger Can Affect

  • Digestion (contributing to the development of heartburn, ulcers, colitis, gastritis or irritable bowel syndrome).
  • Heart and circulatory system (can lead to blocked arteries).
  • Blood pressure (driving it too high).
  • Immune System (making you more likely to catch flu and other bugs)
  • Less able to recover from operations, accidents or major illnesses.

Emotional Effects of Anger

These might include:

  • Addictions (to alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs).
  • Compulsions (eating disorders, such as excessive dieting or binge-eating, overworking, unnecessary cleaning and any other behaviour that is out of control, including sexual activities).
  • Bullying behaviour (trying to make someone else feel bad, because you think it will make you feel better).

What Happens When You Get Angry?

Anger causes excitement in your body and emotions. The glands are pumping your blood full of the hormone adrenalin, preparing for fight or flight. You are full of energy, alert, ready for action. Tension builds up, but is released when you express your anger. The release is good for you, helping to keep body and mind in balance and able to face life’s challenges. But while expressing anger may release tension, it also leads to a range of negative consequences for the person as well as in their relationships with others.

Anger is a natural response to feeling attacked, injured or violated. It’s part of being human; it’s energy seeking expression. In itself, it’s neither good nor bad, but when it is out of control it can be frightening.

Angry feelings can lead to destructive and violent behaviour, and so we tend to be frightened of anger. The way we are brought up, and our cultural background, will very much influence how we feel about expressing anger. If someone bottles up their feelings, the energy has to go somewhere. It may turn inwards and cause them all sorts of problems. Suppressed anger can have very negative effects, physically and mentally.

All of these will damage relationships with other people, and this is likely to lower your self-esteem further and can lead to depression.