Birkdale Collective endeavour to bring the best advice possible for students and professionals alike and as a part of that, we would like to share with you viewpoints of those who have been very successful in their industries.
Sports professionals have particularly interesting career decisions as they get towards the end of their playing careers. Namely, they have to choose one of two paths: stay in that sport in some capacity or choose another field that suits their transferrable skills. Birkdale Collective speaks to former Kilmarnock and Morecambe footballer, Steven Old, as he reflects on the end of a career that took a New Zealand international and Olympian to China, Sweden and now on a new path as a police officer in Scotland…
Can you tell us how you have reached your current career destination?
Towards the latter years of my football career, I started to think of the next step. Becoming a police officer was something I thought I would be good at. It suits me personally and being hard working, disciplined, and a good communicator are some important skills that a lot of footballers have, and these are going to help with my career change.
Your background has been mostly football to date. What are your highlights of that?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a long career that’s taken me to all corners of the world. Some of my favourite highlights have been playing for the New Zealand national team. For the national side I played against a Brazil team that featured Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Adriano. Another highlight was playing twice against David Beckham when he was at LA Galaxy. On a club level, playing in Shijiazhuang, China in 2013 was an experience I will never forget.
If you could go back 10 years what advice would you give yourself in terms of your career?
There is not a lot I would change career-wise as I believe everything happens for a reason, but one piece of advice I would say is don’t get caught up in what other people say about you. Get off social media and enjoy the ride. People always said their football career doesn’t last long and you definitely find that out the hard way as you get older.
How were you feeling when you took the next step in your career?
It’s sad to leave a career behind that you’ve done your whole adult life. I have been lucky to get paid for something I absolutely love but everything comes to an end at some point. I’m really excited about becoming a police officer; it’s a rewarding career. It will be tough and tricky at times but I love a challenge.
What would you say to footballers who are also considering what they should do next?
This is a hard question to answer as all players are at different stages of their career. Right now the world is so volatile so planning too far ahead is a bit useless. If you’re under 30 and fit, don’t worry too much about it just yet and enjoy your football. Once you hit 30, then start looking at options. Most players nowadays retire between 33-38. Understand what your strengths are. It took me until my late 20’s to find out what I am good at and what I don’t like to do.
Thanks, Steven, for your time and valuable comments! If you found this advice useful we have several other interviews available covering a wide variety of topics, take a look at them by clicking here.
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