Out of contract


Life as a footballer is full of uncertainties.

Contracts are generally 1-2 years long and the prospect of having to move clubs is difficult to apprehend. The precarious position we find ourselves in, means players could move clubs at the drop of a hat.


Many fans just see footballers on matchdays expecting them to perform, but don’t realise what goes on in their day-to-day lives.


Looking back to early 2013, my home life was good.


I had bought a house in Leicestershire when I first signed for Coventry in 2010, and after moving away from close family and friends in Yorkshire, we were now all settled in.

My eldest son was coming to the end of reception year in primary school and his teachers had started to gain confidence in managing his type 1 diabetes on a day-to-day basis.

My youngest, Graye, was happy and content in his nursery and my girlfriend was enjoying life in the Midlands.


However, in June 2013 I found myself out of contract at Coventry City. They had a lot of off-field issues and were not able to offer me a new deal.


Worry and uncertainty ensued.


What happens now? Where will I be playing my football? Can I join a club within travelling distance of my home?


I had a bit of interest from teams in League 1 and 2 but I had aspirations to play my football in the Championship, as I had done for the majority of my career.


The opportunity to sign for Charlton Athletic arose. A team in London, 135 miles away from home! Regarding my football career, this was something I couldn’t turn down. Football is only a short career and any footballer should want to play at the highest level possible, so I signed a one-year contract with them in July.


Photo from: here

Of course, this would mean living away from my family.

They were settled in Leicestershire and we didn’t want to up sticks and leave for London, especially with only a one-year contract.

It wouldn’t make sense to.

The plan was to live down there on my own and commute back up when I could.


Ever since my children were born I’ve been heavily involved in their upbringing. My training schedule as a footballer means I’m at home almost everyday (barring away trips where I’d stay in a hotel for a night). This meant I could do the school run most mornings and afternoons. I was always around for them and even though they were young, they grew accustomed to me always being with them.

I love spending time with my family and the thought of not being there worried me. I also knew the pressure on Jade to manage Jenson’s condition whilst also looking after a toddler on her own was massive, but knew she would cope.


I didn’t want to live in London, miles away from my family but for my career, I knew I had to.


Footballers are often stereotyped to have a perfect life.


Play football for a living and get paid well for doing so. What’s to moan and complain about? It’s a great life.


Fans don’t really get to know about a footballer’s private life and the issues they face just like every other person does. Granted, football is my dream job and I feel very privileged to be doing something I love every day.

However, we face many problematic issues and scenarios just like anybody else. We are at the end of the day, just normal human beings.


I’m just trying to give an insight into my personal experiences and being out of contract with a young family is tough.


Not knowing where your next club is going to be is daunting. You can’t just keep moving your family around with you every time you move clubs. It’s not fair on them.

I want them to be happy and settled in school and at home.


Moving clubs and away from your family is a massive decision to make and there are plenty of footballers up and down the country with similar circumstances.

Football isn’t as straight forward as just playing on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a lot more complicated.


My partner and I spoke at length about the decision to sign for Charlton. We knew it would be difficult, and would probably put a strain on our relationship.


I never imagined however, how hard and difficult living away from my family was going to be….




Family before football

Saturday 3rd March 2012

A day I will never forget.

This was the day my eldest son, Jenson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Shocked, frightened, numb, hurt, worried, gutted and shaken. I had so many different feelings and I didn’t really know what his diagnosis meant.

Could he lead a normal life?

Could he grow up playing football?

I had no idea about the condition, and never picked up on the symptoms which to this day still feel guilty about.

The burning question in my head though was why? Why my little boy? What has he done to deserve this? I was heartbroken over those first few days while he was in hospital and tried to keep a brave face in front of him but away from his bed I couldn’t keep the tears in and  I’ve never cried so much in my life.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.

At the time I was playing for Coventry City Football Club and was sidelined with a knee injury.


The team were playing away at Leicester City and I met the squad before the game at a hotel where they were having a pre-match meal. I’d gone to see the physio to check my knee was okay, and then the plan was to go to the stadium to watch the game with a friend. However, as I got in the car, en-route to the ground, I received the phone call that would change everything and our lives would never be the same again.

It was my girlfriend informing me Jenson was on his way to hospital and he’d been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

We had moved down to the Midlands from Yorkshire when I signed for Coventry, but they were back up north that weekend visiting family, so my friend immediately drove me straight back up north to the hospital where Jenson was admitted.

My football career, my knee injury and all other things going on in my life at that point took a back seat. I didn’t care about anything else other than looking after Jenson and caring for my family. Luckily, the football club were brilliant with me and totally understood the situation. I ended up having two weeks away from the club. The manager, Andy Thorn, was in contact with me fairly often to see how we were all doing and I can’t thank him enough for been so supportive in what was an incredibly difficult time.

Looking back, maybe it was a blessing that I was injured at the time, but saying that, if I’d have been fit then I would have done exactly the same thing anyway.

If my family need me then I’ll be there for them regardless. Family comes first and overpowers everything else in life.

Four and a half years later and I couldn’t be prouder of my son.

It’s a constant roller coaster managing his condition everyday, and we’ve had some hard times juggling his care with my football career.  There have been so many obstacles that we’ve had to contend with.