September 08, 2023

Players’ post-career being debated at the Arena Stage

Patrice Evra, Ricardo Pereira, Joaquim Evangelista and David Aganzo debated about the struggles and the opportunities when its time to hang your boots

The Arena Stage at the Thinking Football Summit 2023 hosted a discussion on post-career and the importance of preparing it while still active in the sport. Former French international Patrick Evra, now an investor and entrepreneur, Ricardo Pereira, a player for Leicester City FC, Joaquim Evangelista, President of the Players' Union, and David Aganzo, President of FIFPro, emphasized the role of education, support, and athlete preparation for a transition that is often challenging. The panel was moderated by Luís Vilar.

"When you grow up, you hear stories of players. Some good and some bad, but we tend to remember the bad ones. They built their empire but then got into businesses where they lost everything. You try to take that as an example not to make the same mistakes. For me it came naturally”, said Ricardo Pereira, who also highlighted that nowadays "players have more availability to educate themselves."

Patrice Evra, on the other hand, considered his transition a success. "I am happier now than when I played. I feel that people only saw one side of the iceberg. They considered me a footballer. But now, they look at me as a person. Now I make a video on social media and make people laugh. That makes me happier than winning the Champions League," said the former Champions League winner with Manchester United. "When you play football, your phone rings 100 times a day. When you finish your career, some friends and even family disappear. It's a social problem but also a financial one. They don't teach you how to manage your money in school. When I was playing, I never thought about what I would do after my career. We always live in the present. I don't blame the players. But when I finished, I opened a new chapter in my life. It's not just about money, it's about the happiness it brings me. When I was playing, I was a player, a human machine. I feel that now I am rediscovering myself," he added.

Joaquim Evangelista highlighted that, for the Players' Union, "education is the top priority. For Europe, for Portugal, and for the sport I identify with. Football and education were at odds for many years." The President of the organization also revealed that currently "many former players are educating themselves" and explained the process. "First, you have to convince players that they need to qualify themselves. We have to instil in them that they can't wait for others to do it for them. They have to take responsibility for everything, contracts, business, family, everything. They have to be active in society. Many players finish their careers and have no follow-up. We need to talk more about players who are examples and use them as a flag," he emphasized.

David Aganzo also highlighted the role of education for players in their post-career lives: "What we try to do is make players understand that their careers are short, and they have to think about the next step. In Spain, we have agreements with universities so that our players can focus on their careers while maintaining the mindset that in 10 to 15 years, they will need to educate themselves to become presidents, directors, or whatever they want," explained the head of FIFPro, also addressing the importance of mental health. "It's a very important issue. Many players have mental problems because they don't identify with what they will be in their post-career," he warned.