What it’s really like to be a professional football player – by Dean Holness

Hi, my name is Dean Holness I’m an ex professional footballer who has played in the English and Swedish football league. This was a few years ago as I’m now the ripe old age of 41 and hoping the old saying is true, that life begins at 40.

This is one of the big issues with having a pro football career. You have to dedicate so much of your time from a young age (which seemsimg_4387 to have got younger these days) to playing, learning, developing and training yourself to become a footballer that you don’t leave anytime to learn something else, something that you might want to do when you retire. All footballers will have a second career that they will have to do, even the ones that make millions, like Thierry Henry who works for Sky as a presenter. I was lucky in a sense that my career was mixed with filming and TV choreography, so when I retired I went straight back into it. But on the other hand it meant I didn’t really give my football the 100% focus that it needed so my career was short lived.

The best thing for me about being a footballer was that I got to do the thing I loved as a job and meet others who felt the same. Winning games and playing in-front of thousands of fans was also great a childhood dream for me. But the things you don’t think about when thinking of becoming a footballer were the things I hated. New managers coming in and releasing players and changing everything, which happened to me at Southend United. Also, at a young age trying to get on with older and more established players with big personalities was hard for me because I was very shy as a youngster. When I was in Sweden I spent most of the day alone until training in the evening, this started to affect my football and life, so as a footballer you have to be thick skinned and not let these kind of things effect you. The players that find this hard get depressed and only now is the football world taking mental heath of footballers more seriously. For me there is more they can do, like make all players see a designated expert who comes to the club, maybe at least three times a year.

dh-coverFootball has been and still is my life. I’ve just written a book about becoming a footballer, called ‘So you want to be a footballer’. The book talks about getting into your first club at the age of 6 to playing semi-professionally and looking to break into the pro game. All the training you need to do, the right foods to eat and where to get help from. It’s available on Amazon Kindle at the moment and will soon be available on paperback on the same site. I’ve also entered into the football agent world, as I want to help as many players enjoy, progress and have a good career throughout their footballing life and after.

The training, dedication and sacrifices needed to be a footballer never ever stops. You literally need to eat, sleep and breathe football which is getting harder and harder because of the many things that theses youngsters can do now. Computer games, YouTube channels, Instagram and other social media platforms making socialising even easier and bigger than when I was a teenager.

file-16-06-2015-11-54-47My journey to becoming a footballer begun at 11 years old at Millwall before being released a year later. I then played for Bromley youth and reserve team before playing semi professionally for Dulwich Hamlet. While at Dulwich I went on trial to Crystal Palace and was offered a professional contract which fell through in the last minute. During this time I felt that I was being held back and decided to leave Dulwich and went to Umea in Sweden after a few months. I came back and left football altogether feeling let down by how things went. My life changed dramatically at the time as I also became a dad for the first time. I got lucky because I managed to get onto a Sky 1 TV drama called Dreamteam playing main character Campbell Hooper. I then played Daniel Edwards in feature film Mike Basset England Manager after which I went back to football, and signed a professional contract with Southend United.

For any young budding footballer, I would want to let them know that it’s going to be a long road with many set backs and everyone will have an opinion. My advice would be to just believe in yourself and your ability, train and work hard. Always trying to progress and get better as it’s going to be a short lived career.

Written by Dean Holness

Dean Holness is an English former professional footballer, sports choreographer, businessman and actor. To find out more, please visit www.deanholness.co.uk.

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