The irony of helping the majority of footballers become richer by virtue of a ruling he fought for is not lost on Jean-Marc Bosman – the former Belgian footballer currently struggling for work.
Between 1990 and 1995, Bosman was involved in a dispute with RKC Liege over an exit at the end of his contract, having been eager to leave the club for Dunkerque.
However, the move fell down over the Belgian club’s financial demands, prompting a legal battle that saw Bosman fight for a ruling to ensure players would not have their trade restricted.
When passed in 1995, players were then able to leave clubs for free on the expiration of their contract as well as sign pre-contract agreements in the last six months of their deal.
It shifted the power in football transfers significantly towards players, although Bosman has little to show for his work – the 51-year-old is currently unemployed and living on the outskirts of Liege.
“I live with €570.45 per month. So yes, it’s not easy. My family supports me. FIFPro helps me as well. I am obliged to try and look for jobs at 51,” he told Perform.
“There are not many jobs for the youths, so it’s even more difficult for the elder. Twenty years ago, after I won the trial on December 15th 1995, I thought I was reaching the end of the tunnel but I was actually entering it.”
While Bosman struggles to make ends meet, football is more financially driven than ever before – with bumper new television deals contributing to big contracts and huge signings.
The former midfielder says he has been forgotten by the modern era of football but insists he has to move on if he is to get his life back on track.
“I think I’ve accomplished many things but I am just a random man. I am not a personality. We should remember that someone who accomplished something that big – alongside FIFPro – shouldn’t live as he is at the moment,” he added.
“I am not invited in any stadium. I met Mark van Bommel, who said to me that ‘your situation is sad’. I was once in Milan and I met Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf who was the captain of Milan.
“They came to talk to me, saying: ‘It’s not a normal situation, for a player who did so much’.
“You know, as time goes by, I am trying to forget about this trial. I see life in a different perspective now I am 51 – certainly differently than at 26.
“I put that [trial] behind me. At a point, I was only thinking about this. I must move on because if I live in the past, I wouldn’t be able to put that behind me. It’s clear that I need to move on.”