Lee Sharpe Interview (Part 2) – Professional Aspirations
I think there are always two or three players in a school or Sunday league team who have aspirations to become a professional footballer. Some just play for fun and aspire toward other careers but there were certainly one or two of us in my school and Sunday league team who signed for different clubs.
We all used to talk about the clubs we were at, and that we were all going to be professional footballers and buy big houses and live the dream. It happened for some of us but for most it didn’t.
The PFA notes: “The biggest attrition rate is undoubtedly among young players,” says Oshor Williams of the PFA’s education department, which offers support and training to prepare them for a life outside professional football.
“Of those entering the game aged 16, two years down the line, 50% will be outside professional football. If we look at the same cohort at 21, the attrition rate is 75% or above.
“Most of these kids don’t have a Plan B. It can be very unnerving to find yourself having to move into a completely different world.”
“Opportunities [at the top level] are very tight,” agrees John McDermott, the academy head at Tottenham. “Boys have to realise the path is not what it was 10 years ago.’ You once had to be among the best players in Britain, now you have to be among the best in the world to make it here. Three of the 23 scholars at Tottenham are European (a Swede, an Italian and a Belgian).”